UPDATE: Investigators release murder victim’s identity, mum on motive

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies canvass the area surrounding a murder scene in Valencia on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Austin Dave/The Signal

Investigators with the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner officially on Tuesday identified the young man found strangled to death in a home near Valencia Glen Park Sunday afternoon as 20-year-old Brayan “Brian” Jose Rodriguez, of Valencia.

Although the identity of the murder was widely reported on social media Monday, investigators with both the Medical Examiner’s office and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department purposely withheld that information.

Kelly Yagerlener, spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner’s office, told The Signal Tuesday that the cause and manner of the young man’s death has yet to be determined.

Lt. Rodney Moore, a detective with the LASD’s Homicide Bureau, who on Monday arrested 21-year-old Christian Ortiz, a friend of the deceased man who lives in Valencia, revealed at the time of the arrest that Rodriguez died of strangulation.

When asked about a possible motive behind the murder, Moore said he is close to revealing what he believes was the motive but for the time being is choosing to keep that to himself.

“As of this very second I don’t have a motive,” Moore told The Signal Tuesday. “That might change tonight.”

“There is an indication of a motive before the killing but I don’t think it would serve anyone’s interest to reveal what that is at this time,” he said, noting he is still interviewing people about the murder.

Homicide detectives began probing the circumstances surrounding the death of a male adult that occurred shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday at the 23600 block of Via Valer.

Based on interviews and evidence at the location, it was determined that the unidentified victim died at the hands of another and the suspect was responsible for his death, according to a LASD news release issued Sunday.

Ortiz, who remains in custody with bail set at $1 million, was arrested about 3 a.m. Monday on suspicion of murder.

He is scheduled to appear Friday in San Fernando Superior Court.

Rodriguez was reported missing Friday, prompting searches for the young man throughout the weekend.

He was set to check in at the University of California San Diego on Saturday, but failed to do so.

More than $5,000 has been raised to cover funeral expenses for the Rodriguez family through the online fundraising site GoFundme.

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