Courtesy Taney County Jail

Arrest Made In Branson Famous Dave’s Double Homicide

Story courtesy of Jason Wert, Branson Tri Lakes News

A Branson man has been charged for the double murder of two people behind the Famous Dave’s restaurant in Branson during the late hours of May 29, 2021.

Miguel Angel Melendez-Torres, 35, is facing two counts of 2nd Degree Murder, two counts of Armed Criminal Action, and one count of 1st Degree Armed Robbery in the shooting deaths of Krystle L. Buhl, 38, of Forsyth, and Richard A. McMahan, 39, of Merriam Woods. If convicted on the murder or robbery charge, Melendez-Torres could face life in prison without parole.

According to court documents, investigators obtained a geo-fence warrant for the area surrounding the murder site.

A geo-fence warrant is issued by a court to law enforcement to search a database to find all active mobile devices in the approved geo-fence area.

According to Wikipedia, databases such as Google’s Sensorvault, which collects the historical geolocation data of all users, are used for geo-fence warrants.

The warrant found Melendez-Torres and a second person were inside the area of the warrant.

As the investigation continued, evidence was found linking the pair to an armed robbery which had taken place on May 26, 2021 on East Pacific St. in Branson. 

Court documents connected to the robbery charge state the victims claimed a man approached them pointing a black handgun.

A man identified as Melendez-Torres demanded the purse of the female victim, which contained two Apple iPhones and $100 cash, and the male victim advised her to hand it over. Melendez-Torres then ran from the couple and got into a black four-door sedan and drove off.

When Branson police arrived on scene, Assistant Chief Eric Schmitt assisted the victims with the “Find my iPhone” feature on the couple’s remaining iPhone to find the two phones which were inside the victim’s purse.

They found the purse and iPhones in a construction dumpster at Branson Bible Church on Branson Landing Blvd. about half an hour after the report of the robbery.

A nearby business’s surveillance video showed a dark-colored Nissan four-door sedan with no front license plate with a passenger who had a white mask on their face.

A male exited the car, and stood waiting at the front of the vehicle.

In the video, you can then see him pull up a mask and pull out a dark-colored handgun from his pants and run toward the robbery location.

He returned with the victim’s purse and entered the passenger side of the vehicle.

A search of the social media of Melendez-Torres and the second suspect showed they were in the area of the robbery at the time of the robbery.

The electronic evidence also tracked the pair to the disposal site of the purse just minutes before officers found it and the iPhones. Facebook messenger communications showed the two discussing the armed robbery.

A photo believed to be the second suspect holding a white mask and semi-automatic handgun was taken later in the evening of the robbery.

Officers contacted the two on June 21, 2021, after the second robbery suspect reported a domestic assault, claiming Melendez-Torres had kicked in a bathroom door and was threatening to assault the second robbery suspect.

Body camera footage from the officers showed the pair owned a dark-colored Nissan four-door sedan matching the description of the vehicle from the robbery.

Court documents say further investigation found the evidence collected from the robbery investigation and the electronic evidence found from the Geo-fence warrant merited arrest warrants for Melendez-Torres and the second robbery suspect.

Melendez-Torres was arrested in Boston, Massachusetts, and the second robbery suspect was arrested in St. Augustine, Florida.

The second robbery suspect spoke with investigators on Dec. 16 about the incident involving the shooting at Famous Dave’s. 

The suspect said they and Melendez-Torres were short on rent money for their home on Colonial Drive.

They had planned to rob the business of a neighbor on the west side of Branson but did not go through with it.

The pair then drove around “looking for someone to rob” but could not locate anyone.

The second robbery suspect then told investigators they returned to the Colonial Drive residence and began to argue about the situation.

Melendez-Torres told them he would “walk around until he found someone to rob.” When he left without his cell phone, the second robbery suspect said they picked up both his phone and theirs and followed him into the parking lot of King’s Chapel, which is connected to the parking lot at Famous Dave’s.

The second robbery suspect said the pair spent some time walking around the parking lot talking about their issues, before Melendez-Torres told them to go home and walked away.

They followed him at first but then walked into a yard on the west end of Colonial Drive, behind the wooden fence marking the back of the Famous Dave’s property.

The second robbery suspect told investigators they could hear a “loud conversation” on the other side of the fence and recognized one of the voices as belonging to Melendez-Torres.

The conversation turned into an argument, and they heard Melendez-Torres say “don’t do it.”

They then said they heard two gunshots, became scared, and ran to the home on Colonial Drive.

The second robbery suspect told investigators when Melendez-Torres returned home he was “out of breath and very excited.”

He stripped off all his clothes and threw them in a washing machine, and then they watched him walk to the shower and “bathe in bleach.”

They noticed ammunition on the bed and a black mask.

They took the ammunition and put it in a bag which they later gave to their mother.

They said after Melendez-Torres finished the shower and dressed, he placed a tan and black handgun in the water tank of the home’s dehumidifier. 

The second robbery suspect told investigators Melendez-Torres told them he had shot two people at Famous Dave’s.

They said he claimed he tried to rob them, but the victims resisted; he thought the male victim was reaching for a gun so he shot him in the head.

Melendez-Torres then told The second robbery suspect he couldn’t leave a witness, so he shot the female victim.

Electronic information obtained by Google warrants showed accounts of both the second robbery suspect and Melendez-Torres in the area and time described by the second robbery suspect.

A Facebook warrant was issued and  showed messages between the pair arguing about money owed for rent.

Photos found on Facebook Messenger showed both in possession of a tan and black Taurus G2c handgun, as described by the second robbery suspect.

The second robbery suspect is jailed on a charge of 1st degree Armed Robbery, which could bring a life sentence upon conviction.

“These crimes have impacted the families and our community and our sense of safety. I am thankful for the assistance of the community, their support and patience as we have progressed through this investigation,”

Branson Police Chief Jeff Matthews said at a press conference on Thursday, Dec. 30.

“I am extremely proud of our entire department and our law enforcement partners as they remained focused on facts and followed the evidence from the start.”

Matthews said the department faced its most complex and detailed investigation in department history, and they partnered with other law enforcement agencies including the Taney County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the United States Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center and the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office.

Matthews also thanked Sheriff Robert Hardwick and the Saint John County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, The Boston Police Gang Unit, The Massachusetts State Police and The US Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force for their help in arresting the suspects and returning them to face charges.

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