Bernardo Pantaleon: 3 accused in man's 'brutal murder' as family asks for harsher charges

Court documents reveal shocking details surrounding the death of 30-year-old Bernardo Pantaleon.

Police say three members of a criminal street gang have been arrested in Pantaleon's murder over his sexuality.

Family and friends are working on a memorial and balloon release to honor Pantaleon.

His cousin describes him as brave and beautiful. He says, although the suspects are behind bars, it's still not enough.

"He cared for everybody first before himself and he was just so brave. I envied him for that," Juan Pantaleon, his cousin, said.

He says Bernardo was vibrant and full of life.

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Bernardo Pantaleon. Photo courtesy of Juan Pantaleon

"I was proud of him for living his truth, but unfortunately, now that we know, this is the most heartbreaking thing, that is what cost him his life," Juan said.

Pantaleon's body was found Nov. 26 at Mountain View Park in north Phoenix.

Three young men were arrested.

They are Manuel Carrasco Calderon, 21, Jose David Rodriguez, 20, Leonardo Santiago, 21. Police say they are all members of the North Side 15th Avenue gang.

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Leonardo Santiago

"We're glad that the guys are caught, but it's not enough because we know they'll go away to prison for these two things and not get what they deserve," Juan said.

Court documents reveal Santiago shot and killed Pantaleon. He admitted to killing him because the victim made an unwanted advance that made Santiago uncomfortable.

Detectives say the three men made remarks about "homosexuals not being allowed in the north side."

"He ultimately shot the victim multiple times, killing him, leaving him, returning an hour later with his codefendant, Manual Carrasco, who then mutilated the victim's body, causing the most grotesque injuries that one can imagine," a prosecutor said during the suspects' court appearances on Dec. 3.


Suspects accused of mutilating Arizona murder victim's body | Crime Files

Court documents provided chilling details surrounding a murder in Phoenix that involved mutilation of the victim's body.

Investigators say Santiago then took photos and videos of Pantaleon's body. Police say Rodriguez sent photos to Pantaleon's family and also offered to hide Santiago.

Calderon is being held on a million-dollar bond. Bail is set for Rodriguez at $500,000. Santiago is being held on a $2 million bond.

"The charges that have been outlined by the affiants speak for themselves. What the court cannot see is the horrific mutilation that this defendant caused on the victim's body and the apparent joy that he and his codefendant who is up next derived from inflicting this brutality on this deceased victim whom the codefendants just an hour earlier savagely murdered," the prosecutor said.

Juan says he is heartbroken knowing the person he looked up to for being himself was killed for that very reason.

"They targeted him because he was gay. They killed him because he was gay. They then proceeded to dump his corpse in the desert because he was gay, then mutilate his corpse again because he was gay. Leave, come back, cut him up some more, take pictures of it, and post it on social media saying, 'gays aren't welcome in the north side,' yet they are only being charged with mutilating a corpse and murder. It's not enough," Juan said.

If you'd like to donate to help Pantaleon's family and donate in his honor, visit