A University of Miami football player who allegedly shot his teammate in the back of the head in 2006 and evaded police investigations for 15 years was captured Thursday, police said.
Rashaun Jones, a 35-year-old former Miami Hurricanes defensive back, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Bryan Pata, a defensive lineman and a rising star on the team at the time, the Miami Herald reported. Pata was a senior and 22 years old at the time. His jersey number was 95.
The arrest brings potential closure to a brutal case that has remained unsolved for more than a decade. Pata was killed outside his apartment building in Kendall, Florida, a suburb of Miami, after returning from practice on Nov. 7, 2006. There were no witnesses.
The alleged shooter had dated Pata’s ex-girlfriend, Jada Brody, before Pata and had been in two fistfights with him over the relationship. Jones came under public suspicion following an ESPN story published last November that disclosed new details of the investigation. Teammates reportedly said Pata often taunted Jones about the romance with Brody.
Police also discovered that Jones had skipped a required football team meeting hours after the shooting and changed his phone number the same day. The defensive back had been suspended from the team after testing positive three times for marijuana. Later, he asked a fellow student for a loan so he could leave town.
In the years since Pata’s death, someone repeatedly left items near his grave that seemed to have a strange, ritualistic significance: slaughtered chickens, a goat’s head, a wine bottle with Pata’s name on it with yet another dead bird inside. The eerie offerings disturbed Pata’s family so much they had his remains exhumed and moved to a secret location.
“For nearly 15 years, our homicide investigators have relentlessly searched for the murderer of Bryan Pata,” Alfredo Ramirez, Miami-Dade Police Director, wrote on Twitter.
Charging documents for Jones’ case remained sealed Thursday afternoon.