Fairfax Police look for leads on one-year anniversary of Centreville homicide

The pick-up truck believed to be the get-away vehicle in homicide of Jose Cardona, May 17, 2011. Photo: Fairfax County Police

Fairfax County Police continue to investigate leads surrounding the homicide of Jose Cardona, 39, on May 17, 2010, on Compton Road in the Centreville area.

Detectives released a 20-second segment of the 911 dispatch call that airs the voice of the murderer. Police hope someone will recognize the voice.

On the clip, the voice of a gunman is clearly heard using profanities and instructing someone to "get down", then suddenly, the sound of a gunshot.

The unidentified homeowner describes the handyman as a "hero" on Tuesday and hopes the release of the recording will help police make arrests in the case. "Not a day goes by that I don't think of Jose. He gave his life to make sure no one else in my family got hurt," the homeowner said.

Police also released a photograph of a white pick-up truck, which they believe is the get-away vehicle from the botched home invasion. Detectives say they believe two gunmen who approached the home on Compton Road the morning of May 17, but two other men were also involved. Detective Chester Toney says "they know we know who they are, and it's just a matter of time".

One year ago, police were called around 10:45 a.m. to the 14200 block of Compton Road. Cardona and residents of the home had an altercation with two male intruders in the garage area, police say. Cardona worked as a gardener and handyman for the residents.

The two gunmen struggled with the homeowner's son and the family's handyman on the driveway. During this fight, Cardona was shot in the upper body and died at the scene. The homeowner's son then desperately fought to keep the men away from his mother.

The two suspects fled the home on foot through a wooded area adjacent to the property. There was a significant police response to the scene and surrounding area, including a helicopter, K-9 and bloodhound units, patrol officers, and detectives.

The suspects were described as black, around 5'-10", between 20 and 30 years old and wearing dark clothing. One of the men was light-skinned and had a beard and mustache. The other was darker and had a thin goatee.

The homeowner’s son, who prefers not to be identified, says those horrible seconds changed his life. “For the last year, every single day we just think about senselessly, why did you have to murder a father, husband, friend to so many people?” he said.

He, too, considers Cardona a hero. “To me always, I will never forget him,” he said of Cardona.

Detectives want to hear from anyone who may have seen an older model, white Toyota pick-up truck in the vicinity of Bay Valley Lane between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Monday, May 17. A witness told police he saw someone jump into the bed of a pick-up truck and pull a tarp over himself between 10:50 and 10:55 a.m. The truck then fled eastbound on Compton Road towards Union Mill Road.

The suspects should be considered armed and dangerous.