A pair of friends from San Francisco and Oakland befriended a man in Hawaii who was arrested earlier this month for a murder there, and they say he "seemed very nice."
Juan Tejedor-Baron, 23, was arrested March 9 in Anaheim for the killing of 73-year-old Gary Ruby in Honolulu. Ruby's body was found on March 8 encased in concrete in a bathtub, and Tejedor-Baron has reportedly already confessed to killing him.
But just a couple of weeks ago, two Bay Area friends, Ronald Wu and Mohammad Daudie, were partying with Tejedor-Baron in the bars and clubs of Honolulu. As they tell NBC Bay Area, he even invited them back to his house in the exclusive area of Hawaii Loa Ridge, which had nice views off a balcony of the Pacific Ocean. They noticed, though, that one or more of the bedrooms were blocked off and they weren't allowed to go in there. Little did they know that this house would soon become a crime scene.
"He seemed very nice actually," says Daudie. The two Bay Area men were looking to make new friends on vacation in Honolulu, and nothing seemed amiss to them, even back at the house.
Another friend of theirs, 34-year-old Scott Hannon of Los Angeles, ended up further entangled. Hannon and Tejedor-Baron hooked up on the trip, and Hannon decided to spend an extra week in Honolulu as a result. The pair were together at Ruby's house when police arrived for a welfare check on March 7, and it appears that they then flew to California together — with Tejedor-Baron looking for an escape route.
Tejedor-Baron ended up being found hiding in a crawl space under a seat aboard a Greyhound bus bound from Anaheim to Mexico on March 9. He was arrested, and as the Law & Crime show reports, Tejedor-Baron "waived his constitutional right to remain silent and consented to a Mirandized interview" on March 10 in which he confessed to killing Ruby and then trying to stage the scene like a suicide — slitting the man's wrists after strangling him.
Tejedor-Baron told authorities that he became angry, apparently just days or weeks into a sexual relationship with Ruby, when Ruby told him that he was HIV positive. Tejedor-Baron claims to have taken an opportunity to choke Ruby after seeing him choke on some food. After the suicide idea, it looks like Tejedor-Baron was scheming for a way to keep Ruby's house and car, and had already submitted forged paperwork for a change of ownership on Ruby's Audi. He found some bags of concrete in the garage, purchased several more, and then filled the tub with concrete, also adding coffee grounds to mask the scent of decomposition.
As the Daily Mail reported, Honolulu police said they first smelled coffee in the bathroom, and once they had a search warrant, began excavating the concrete out of the tub and were overwhelmed with the smell of rot.
The police had been initially called in for a welfare check by Ruby's brother, Lorne Ruby. The brother says he had not talked to Gary Ruby in several weeks, but in their last phone call, Ruby said he had met a new, much younger love interest named Juan.
When police arrived at the home, they say, Tejedor-Baron claimed to have purchased the home from Ruby five years ago. When they checked and found that Ruby had only owned it since 2020, Tejedor-Baron allegedly changed his story to say he'd bought it two years ago.
Another local man who spent time hanging out with Tejedor-Baron in recent weeks, Kai Johnson, tells Hawaii News Now that he also had been invited back to Ruby's house, without knowing that it didn't belong to Tejedor-Baron — who told him he worked as some kind of "creative financial advisor."
"Almost every night he was asking [me and a friend] to go out to bars and stuff, and he was the one who was like always paying for it,” Johnson tells the station. “It was probably the other — like the victim’s card he was using.”
Hannon was quickly cleared for no probable cause, and released. But he probably will think twice about putting too much stock in a vacation hookup in the future.
Daudie tells NBC Bay Area, "He's a very close friend of mine. I even invited him to Hawaii and paid for the trip."
Tejedor-Baron remains in custody in Los Angeles, awaiting an extradition hearing, after which he is expected to be extradited to Honolulu to face murder charges there.
Photo via the Honolulu Police Department