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Three California Men Arrested For ‘Randomly’ Murdering A Man On Halloween 20 Years Ago

Francis Dagayray, Eutropio Dagayray, and Gilbert Meriales are accused of stabbing Nhin Phi Ha to death in front of his apartment complex in 2001.

By Jax Miller
Francis Dagayray Eutropio Dagayray Gilbert Meriales Pd

Three California men have been arrested in a 20-year-old case of a man randomly murdered on Halloween.

Francis Dagayray, 45, Eutropio Dagayray, 47, and Gilbert Meriales, 45, were taken into custody for their alleged roles in the cold case that previously yielded no arrests, according to the San Jose Police Department. The three San Jose men are accused of stabbing Nhin Phi Ha, 25, to death in front of Ha’s apartment complex in the early evening of Oct. 31, 2001.

A friend of the victim was also stabbed multiple times but survived the attack, according to police. Ha died on the scene.

Two suspects fled in an SUV believed to be driven by a third suspect.

“In August of 2021, the case was assigned to a San Jose Police Department and District Attorney’s Office Cold Case team who brought new life to the investigation,” police said. “The team connected the dots, re-interviewed several witnesses, and were able to solve the case.”

Police say witnesses were more forthcoming after two decades.

“They actually went and re-interviewed witnesses, [who] for whatever reasons, decided to be more cooperative. Maybe they weren’t involved with what they were involved with 20 years ago today,” said Sgt. Christian Camarillo, according to CBS affiliate KPIX 5. “They were more forthcoming. Our detectives, with that new information, were able to corroborate some stuff that they already knew.”

According to police, several detectives followed up with leads since the 2001 murder, but the investigation produced no arrests.

Authorities believed the attack was unprovoked.

“This was a completely random attack,” said Camarillo. “The suspects did not know the victim. For whatever reasons, [they] decided to attack him that day.”

On Oct. 6, 2021, the police department’s Covert Response Unity located the three suspects, including brothers Francis and Eutropio Dagayray, according to KPIX. They were booked on charges of homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, and gang enhancements.

A gang enhancements statute imposes additional prison time when a person commits a crime for the benefit of a gang, according to California state law. The mandatory time is served immediately after the convict finishes his sentence for the underlying offense.

“When you really are holding something in for so long that you know was directly related to someone’s death, you can only carry a dark secret like this for so long, Camarillo continued.

Francis Dagayray, Eutropio Dagayray, and Gilbert Meriales remain in custody at the Santa Clara County Jail.