Man fatally stabbed grandfather, started Rock Valley house fire, police say

Firefighters discovered body in October 29 house fire

ROCK VALLEY, Iowa - Authorities say a northwest Iowa fire death late last month has now turned out to be a case of murder.

Luis Luevanos, 84, was found dead on October 29 following a fire at his home in Rock Valley.

Friday, the State Fire Marshall announced autopsy results that show the man was actually stabbed to death prior to the fire.

And officials believe the blaze was apparently set to cover up the crime.

The man's grandson has been arrested in Utah, where authorities say he reportedly confessed to the crime.

Santo Rodriguez Jr., 19, is in the process of being extradited back to Iowa, where Rock Valley police are charging him with first-degree murder and felony arson.

Police say Rodriguez lived with his grandfather and fled to Utah after the fire.

The Rock Valley Police Department issued the below release of findings in the investigation: 

On October 29, 2017, at approximately 02:24 a.m., the Rock Valley Fire Department responded to a report of a house fire that occurred at 1416 15th St. in Rock Valley, IA.

Upon arriving at the address, responders discovered a portion of the house was fully engulfed by fire and were told there was someone still inside. Firefighters gained entry to the residence, extinguished the fire and discovered a deceased male inside.

Luis Luevanos, age 84, of Rock Valley was identified as the deceased male in the residence.

As a result of the death connected to the fire, an investigation was initiated by the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Rock Valley Police Department in consultation with the Sioux County Attorney. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) was also contacted and special agents were brought in to assist in the investigation.

The investigation revealed that the deceased, Luis Luevenos, suffered multiple stab wounds to the body prior to the fire.

Investigators learned that Santos Rodriguez Jr., age 19, a grandson of Luis Luevenos, who also resided in the same home had travelled to Utah after the fire. DCI Agents traveled to Utah and conducted an interview of Santos Rodriguez Jr. Santos Rodriguez Jr. made admissions to stabbing his grandfather and intentionally setting the fire afterwards.

Santos Rodriguez Jr. was arrested November 8, 2017, in Utah on warrants stemming from charges issued by the Rock Valley Police Department. Santos Rodriguez Jr. was charged with Murder in the First Degree, a class A felony, and Arson in the First Degree, a class B felony. Santos Rodriguez Jr. is currently in custody in Utah and awaiting extradition back to Iowa with bond set at $1,000,000.

A Criminal charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The investigation is on-going and anyone having information related to the fire is encouraged to contact the Rock Valley Police Department.

In addition to the press release, the family of the deceased is asking for your cooperation in respecting their privacy while they deal with this tragic situation.


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