RALEIGH – Earlier this year in Raleigh, a young man who had his whole life ahead of him, tried to do the right thing by turning his car around after seeing an accident and stopped to help out some complete strangers. Tragically, this selfless act by Eleazar Brache Herrera led to his own stabbing and instead of trying to solve just one set of crimes, the Raleigh Police Department is now trying to find two killers in this unsolved murder of a young Good Samaritan.
“He was acting as a Good Samaritan by trying to render aid at a crash scene,” said Jim Sughrue of the Raleigh Police Department about the stabbing of the 20 year old Herrera. “No arrests have been made in the case.”
The Raleigh Police Department says that a strange series of incidents led up to the murder of Herrera. On January 15th, the police department said two men committed a home invasion robbery at an apartment located at 4901B Wallingford Drive in Raleigh. According to the 911 call released by the police department, two men kicked in the back door of the home of a woman and her 11 year old son and after hitting her in the head, took cash and left the home. The woman told WRAL news that she knew one of the attackers.
According to the police and the woman, the two men fled the scene by car. In their haste to escape, they wrecked the dark grey GMC Envoy that they were driving when they skidded off the road in front of the apartment complex at the intersection of New Hope Road and Wallingford Road.
”While fleeing the scene, the robbery suspects were involved in a single-vehicle collision at the intersection,” said Jim Sughrue of the Raleigh Police Department.
Police say that the GMC Envoy that the suspects used during the crime turned out to be a stolen vehicle that was taken from another woman in Raleigh the night before.
After they wrecked the car sometime between 4am and 5am, the Raleigh Police Department says that the two suspects took off on foot and fled the scene, although they were later apprehended by police.
“The [two] robbery suspects fled the scene on foot, heading south towards the Mini City Shopping Center,” said Sughrue.
Arrested in the home invasion case and charged with counts of first degree burglary, common law robbery, and larceny of a motor vehicle were Terrell Gaither Hilliard, age 19, of Wilson and Ronald Steven Earl Gaither, age 23, of Raleigh.
What happened next would take the life of a young man who has been described by his family as a young man with an infectious smile who loved his family and enjoyed fishing and playing sports with his friends.
Right after the wreck took place, the police say that Good Samaritan Eleazar Herrera was driving with some friends and noticed the accident and decided to help, say police.
“The homicide victim, Eleazar Brache Herrera, and his friends were in a car traveling on North New Hope Road, and they witnessed the collision involving the robbery suspects,” said Sughrue about the case. “Eleazar traveled a short distance past the crash and turned around to go back as a Good Samaritan to assist the wreck victims.”
The Raleigh Police say that according to witnesses, the two home invasion suspects had already fled on foot when Herrera had arrived and that two other men were at the scene looking at the wrecked SUV. Police say that those men got into an argument with Herrera and for a motive that remains unclear, stabbed him and fled.
“By the time Eleazar and his friends got back to the crash scene, the robbery suspects were gone and two other males were standing in the middle of New Hope Road,” said Sughrue of the Raleigh Police. “When Eleazar got out of his car and walked to the two guys in the road – an altercation quickly started for unknown reasons, and he was stabbed.”
Herrera died at the scene of his wounds.
After stabbing Herrera, the stabbing suspects fled north on foot on Wallingford Drive, the opposite direction as the two robbery suspects, who had headed south towards a shopping center.
According to detectives and witnesses, the police believe that there are two different set of suspects — the two men who robbed the home and wrecked the car and another two set of men who arrived at the scene of the wreck and stabbed Herrera.
“The robbery suspects have been arrested, and at this time we do not have reason to believe they were involved in or committed the homicide,” said Sughrue.
According to police, the two men who stabbed Herrera were seen by witnesses at the scene.
The first suspect was described as a black male, early to mid-20′s in age, 5 feet 9-10 inches tall, weighing 180 to 210 pounds, and having a medium to dark skin complexion. This suspect was wearing a cap on his head, a black zip-up hooded sweatshirt that was covering a white shirt, dark colored pants and dark colored shoes, say police.
The second suspect was also described as a black male, in his mid-20′s, 5 feet 7-10 inches tall, with thin build and light skin complexion. Police say that he was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt covering his head, and he may have had braided hair.
In an effort to turn up clues to the identity of the killers and to revive public attention to the case, the Raleigh Police Department held a special press conference last week to go over the case at police headquarters with the media present and to ask for help. The fact that Herrera was acting to help others and yet was killed has struck a nerve with many in the community.
“We’re asking for tips that will lead us to the suspects responsible,” said Sughrue. “From the standpoint of the detectives working to solve the case, they hope to get [the information] to the public through the media coverage.”
For friends and family of Eleazar Brache Herrera, the murder has been hard to deal with and there are more questions than answers about why a young man in the prime of his life was struck down by two strangers after he tried to help lend a hand at the scene of a wreck.
At the memorial page set up for Herrera at the Brown-Wynne Funeral Home website, hundreds of people left 37 pages of messages for the family of young Herrera, expressing their love for the young man and their heartbreak at his murder.
“Even though I know that you are with the Lord in a better…place now but it’s been tears of pain in our family since you have left our side,” said one relative Shakira Herrera. “I cant tell you how much your Mom and Dad’s family love you. It’s been actually heart broken for all of us.”
Born in the Dominican Republic, the young Herrera had made a life for himself in Raleigh with his many friends and loved ones. In the photos posted on the funeral home website, the New York Yankees fan is seeing hanging out with friends, working as a lifeguard, and in general, enjoying a zest for life.
One thing that you notice quickly is that in almost every picture of the young man on the funeral home website, he had a big smile on his face and seemed happy.
“Eleazar may you rest in peace. I will never forget your beautiful smile,” said his cousin Jhomary Roa in a post on the site. “That will be something that I will never forget about you. When you were little I would try to always tickle you, so that I could see that smile that I loved. Your departure has brought us lots of pain, but I know you are in a better place. May God have you in his glory. We will miss you.”
Many others agreed that Eleazar Herrera was a special young man whose smile would “light up a room.”
“I will ALWAYS remember that amazing beautiful smile of yours,” said another relative. “We love you…you will never be forgotten.”
While there are many questions in the case, Raleigh Police detectives are still searching for answers and ask that anyone who has even the smallest bit of information that may help to come forward.
The Raleigh Police Department is asking that anyone who believes they may know something to call Raleigh CrimeStoppers at 919-834-HELP or 919-834-4357. Callers do not have to reveal their identity and CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for tips that help solve cases. ::