The town of Detroit in Michigan was shocked by the discovery of the body of a veteran firefighter in his home by his son in December 2015. A much-loved member of the community due to his kindness and empathy, David Madrigal lost his life to a heinous act of violence catapulted by greed. Investigation Discovery’s ‘On the Case With Paula Zahn: A Hero Betrayed’ dives deep into the case to bring forward the intrinsic case details of the investigation and how the police finally caught the perpetrators. Curious about the identity and current whereabouts of the perpetrators, we’ve you covered.
How Did David Madrigal Die?
David Madrigal was a resident of Garden City in Wayne County, Michigan. The 59-year-old had been a Detroit firefighter for 26 years and was assigned at the Engine 33, Ladder 13 station on Lawndale at the time. He was a proud grandfather and father of David Jr. and Christina. David loved his job dearly and was a very compassionate human being. Besides collecting toys for children and volunteering to help those without homes, David was also an active member of the Fire Department’s Honor Guard — which pays tribute to firefighters, who lost their lives on the line of duty, at their funerals.
David was rightly referred to as “Super Dave” by those who knew him. At the time of the incident, he was planning on retiring and had even rented the Belle Isle Pavilion on June 12, 2016, for his colleagues to celebrate his retirement party. Mike, the President of the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, said, “He was a giver, an old soul. He was a compassionate man. This is why it hurts so much, and why the firefighters are so pissed off. He was just a good man, and a kind soul.”
As per Mike, David’s colleague last spoke with him on December 19, 2015, when the Fire Department planned an event for firefighters to get together and wrap presents for children. He was supposed to attend the event, but he did not show up. David’s son, David Madrigal Jr., had called his father many times, but the call went to voice mail each time. A little concerned, he went to his father’s residence on Vaughn Street on the west side of the city to check up on him on December 21, 2015, at around 7:30 pm.
Madrigal Jr. was shocked to find his father in his recliner with blood oozing out of his face, specifically his nose, ears, and forehead. In his testimony, the son said, “He was ice cold.” Madrigal Jr. further stated David had been living with depression for some time and expressed suicidal thoughts. He added that he initially thought his father had shot himself, but he changed his mind when he discovered his father’s gun and several other things, including a safe, missing from the residence. The upstairs bedroom had also been ransacked. Madrigal Jr. immediately notified the authorities.
The authorities soon arrived and began inspecting the scene and launched the investigation. Apart from the safe and other personal items, the victim’s black 2015 Ford Explorer was also missing. However, the authorities soon found out that David’s missing car — a 2015 Harley-Davidson-model black Ford Explorer — had been discovered near an alley near the 3800 block of Bangor on December 19. The car was set on fire, and the Detroit Fire Department arrived at the scene to extinguish it. As per the medical report, David’s cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.
Who Killed David Madrigal?
Following a three-month-long extensive investigation, the police arrested and charged Timmy Lynn Soto, then 32, Nicole O’ Neill, then 33, and Christian Anthony Rasnick, then 19, in the murder of David Madrigal in March 2016. One of the investigating officers, Sergeant Lance Sullivan, said, “This was a case that involved everything we do: DNA, forensic evidence, and people coming forward at the right time.”
In May 2016, Soto confessed to the crime during a lengthy police investigation. According to Soto’s testimony, he had befriended David, and the latter had invited him to his home for drinks on December 19, 2015. Soto said he took Rasnick and Nicole along to David’s place. Rasnick told the authorities they all went there intending to rob David. Soto claimed that David was allegedly “hitting on” Nicole and even touched her at one point. He said the alleged behavior brought back “flashbacks” of him witnessing sexual abuse in the past, which “made me snap.”.
Soto left David’s house at one point with Nicole to bring back drugs and returned to find David dozing off in his recliner. He then proceeded to strike David twice in the head with a weight plate he found at David’s home and then moved on to steal his safe. The trio took off in David’s car with the safe that contained around $1500 in cash and two firearms. Soto drove to one of his friend’s basement, pried open the safe with a crowbar, split the money, and left David’s car in an alley before setting it on fire.
Where are Christian Rasnick, Nicole O’Neill, and Timmy Lynn Soto Today?
All the three assailants — Christian Rasnick, Nicole O’Neill, and Timmy Lynn Soto — pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges in front of a Wayne County jury and were sentenced accordingly. Timmy Lynn Soto pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and felony firearms charges in December 2016 and was sentenced to 38-82 years in prison. He is presently incarcerated at Macomb Correctional Facility.
Christian Anthony Rasnick pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in October 2016 and was sentenced to 10-30 years in prison. He was sentenced to a further 5 years in prison on January 15, 2019, for possession of a firearm in jail. Rasnick is presently incarcerated at Oaks Correctional Facility. Nicole O’ Neill pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20-50 years in March 2017. She is presently incarcerated at Huron Valley Complex, with the earliest release date set to March 10, 2036.