FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A 24-year-old Fort Smith man has been charged with first-degree murder after the shooting death of his girlfriend at their shared apartment on the 1700 block of Brazil Avenue on Thursday, according to an arrest warrant filed in the Sebastian County Circuit Court.
According to the affidavit, Ervin Eduardo Nafate-Ruiz was spotted on video running from the apartment shortly after the victim, Jessica Chavez, was discovered by her neighbors in a bedroom with a single gunshot wound to the chest at around 6:11 a.m. on Thursday.
Residents at the complex had attempted to render medical aid to Chavez, police said, but she was dead by the time Fort Smith Police Department officers arrived on scene.
Witnesses said Chavez lived at the apartment with her boyfriend, Nafate-Ruiz, and there had been a domestic disturbance at the residence at around 5 a.m.
They said Nafate-Ruize, who had been living with the victim at the home for approximately one year, left the apartment, but returned shortly before they heard a gunshot.
According to police, investigating officers learned there had been a series of domestic disturbances at Apartment #23 during the past few weeks, and that, during some of the incidents, Chavez had attempted to run away from Nafate-Ruiz and sought refuge at a neighbor’s apartment. The victim reportedly told the neighbor that he had threatened her with a firearm on at least of these occasions.
Police pinged Nafate-Ruiz’s cell phone and located him at a home in Poteau. According to the affidavit, they learned he had driven there in a 2012 red Dodge Avenger owned by the both suspect and victim.
Fort Smith police officers traveled to Poteau and arrested Nafate-Ruiz. According to the arrest warrant, he had blood on his hands, shorts, sock, and on his right leg.
Nafate-Ruiz also allegedly backed the Dodge Avenger into his friend’s carport in Oklahoma, raising its hood in a “apparent attempt to disguise his car’s easily recognizable hood scoop.”
Police say they later obtained the video of Nafate-Ruiz leaving the scene of the murder from the victim’s apartment.
Nafate-Ruiz is being held on a $500,000 cash bond. He’s set to be arraigned on April 14, 2021, at 8:30 a.m.