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Bail denied for 3 accused of killing Naperville man, hiding body in trash

From left: Ernest Collins, Cassandra Green and Candice Jones | DuPage County state's attorney's office

A Naperville man found decomposing in a trash container last year on the Southwest Side was killed in an alleged burglary plotted by his childhood friend, his friend’s mother and his friend’s girlfriend, prosecutors said Saturday.

Michael Armendariz, 20, was being driven to a Naperville Walmart the night of Jan. 14, 2018, when his friend, 22-year-old Ernest Collins, emerged from hiding in the rear of the vehicle and shot him in the back of the head, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said during a press conference.

Collins’ mother, Candice Jones, allegedly plotted the murder after they failed several times to burglarize Armendariz’s Naperville home, Berlin said. Collins’ girlfriend, Cassandra Green, a 21-year-old from Rockford, was the alleged driver in the fatal shooting.

Michael Armendariz | Naperville police

A DuPage County judge on Saturday ordered the three held without bail. Each are charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, armed robbery and concealment of a homicide, prosecutors said. Collins and Green are also charged with residential burglary.

The plot to burglarize Armendariz began when Collins’ mother, Jones, 38, of Chicago, saw social media posts in which Armendariz posed with cash and drugs, Berlin said.

Collins and Green, at the direction of Jones, tried and failed to burglarize Armendariz’s apartment four times, Berlin said. Jones bought a kit to pick locks online to aid in the burglaries. Each time they failed, Jones reprimanded Collins and Green for failing to steal the drugs and cash, Berlin said.

Jones became frustrated and planned for Collins to shoot Armendariz and steal his keys and property, Berlin said. Jones gave her son a .38 caliber revolver and said, “You’re going to do this,” Berlin said.

Green drove a black Ford Explorer, with Collins hidden in the back compartment, from Chicago to Armendariz’s apartment, according to Berlin.

Green told Armendariz over Snapchat they would drive to Walmart and steal a bottle of alcohol, Berlin said. Shortly after he got in the car, Collins emerged from hiding and shot Armendariz twice, Berlin said.

They covered his body with a blanket and drove to Jones’ house in the 6800 block of South Artesian Avenue in the Marquette Park neighborhood, Berlin said. Green went through Armendariz’s pockets and stole a phone, keys, wallet and vape pen, Berlin said.

They moved Armendariz’s body to a trash can and hid it in a vacant garage next door, Berlin said. The three tried to destroy the evidence, including the blanket, by burning it in Jones’ backyard. They returned to Armendariz’s home the next day and burglarized it.

Jones allegedly threatened Green, saying, “I will kill you and your mom if you say anything,” Berlin said.

Armendariz’s body was discovered May 31 after Jones made calls to 311 to complain of a foul smell coming from the garage next door, Berlin said.

Armendariz had been reported missing after failing to show up to work, Berlin said.

Police arrested Jones on Feb. 6 at Marquette Park home, Berlin said. They recovered a revolver and partially burned evidence in a fire pit in her backyard, Berlin said. Collins and Green were arrested Monday in Rockford.

“The allegations that a mother aided, planned, and helped and encouraged her own son and son’s girlfriend to commit an armed robbery in a brutal execution of a young man, and then hid and concealed the victim’s body in a blue garbage can, are shocking,” Berlin said.

“The fact’s alleged in this case indicate a complete, utter disregard for human life and the rule of law,” Berlin said.

They are due in court again March 4.