SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A homeless man has been held to answer on two counts of open murder in relation to two alleged knife attacks near transient hangout spots, three years apart from each other.
Robert Munoz, also known as “Stabbin’ Rob”, is accused of stabbing two men to death three years apart near Carmichael Park. The first, Ruben Ambrus, was found dead at a nearby bus stop in 2016. The second, Robert Santillano, was killed up the same street three years later.
At a preliminary hearing held earlier this month, an investigator testified that Munoz, wearing all black, abruptly stabbed Ambrus in the back of the neck and fled into the night, shortly after walking past him with his girlfriend and doubling-back to commit the assault. Munoz was briefly chased by one of the disc golfers, cutting around the park and pedaling off on his girlfriend’s bike after losing him.
“I just put holes in this cat,” Munoz allegedly said in a panic, taking the bike and pedaling off. Munoz’ girlfriend, Tisha Eddy, later reluctantly reported him to police.
Ambrus later died of his injuries at a local hospital and, like Munoz, was a member of the homeless community near Carmichael Park. The duo previously had a tense run-in in an abandoned house, according to authorities.
Detectives said Munoz and Eddy were squatting at a house in the 6000 Block of Oak Avenue when they were approached by Ambrus and his father, who owned the house. Ambrus called the police, claiming Munoz had a gun, and he was arrested. That, authorities said, was the motive for the killing.
Two years later, as the Ambrus killing was still being probed, Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a report of a possibly dead male in front of the Ark Mission Church on Marconi Avenue in the early morning hours of December 18. Robert Santillano’s body was lying dead on the ground, with several slices and a large bruise on his face.
When the coroner arrived, a deputy testified, more injuries were revealed.
“She lifted up his shirt, and there were puncture wounds in his upper torso,” former SCSO homicide investigator James Walther told the court. “There was a slice mark across his stomach.”
Another homeless man, Jacob Platz, told deputies that he saw Munoz and Eddy arguing near Fair Oaks Boulevard and Marconi Avenue. One man, known as “The Happy Drunk”, attempted to break up the argument. Platz yelled at the couple to shut up, and Munoz became unhinged.
“I’m going to stab you, you wanna know what Stabbin’ Rob’s all about?” he allegedly said, running up on the man and his group. Platz said Munoz began challenging several people in Platz’ group to a fight, pushing one down and drawing a makeshift knife.
He first lunged towards Eugene Eden with the weapon, crossing back over the street and stabbing The Happy Drunk, later identified as Santillano, several times as he yelled to try and break up the ensuing fight.
“Welcome to Carmichael, bitch!” Munoz allegedly yelled as he wrestled with Santillano on the ground, eventually overpowering him and stabbing him several times, leaving him coughing up blood.
Though Santillano, at the time, was in the midst of a large group of known transients from Carmichael, his family said he lived with his father and held down two jobs.
As deputies testified in court as to the length of the knife Munoz allegedly carried, an unidentified audience member, presumably one of the victim’s family members, lashed out towards the alleged killer, screaming “you motherfucker, I hope you rot in hell.”
After Munoz ran off and Eddy linked back up with him, a friend gave the duo permission to stay at a place on Red Water Drive to cool off after the stabbing. Authorities were able to trace Munoz to that house, arresting him the next day.
Investigators found that the house was vacant. After executing a search warrant, they recovered two knives and a bloody set of clothes on the back porch.
Eddy told deputies in an interview that she was present the day Ruben Ambrus was killed and, though she did not directly witness it, Munoz later told her he was “happy Ruben was dead.”
Lawyers for Munoz argued at the hearing that there were “huge discrepancies” with regard to the Ambrus killing, pointing to witnesses who made no mention of Eddy or someone riding off on a bicycle.
Deputy District Attorney Brad Ng countered that argument, telling the judge that there was probable cause to hold Munoz in the Ambrus killing.
“She’s at a part of the park that is not well lit, and her account is consistent with the facts of the case,” Ng said. “I think it would stretch credibility to believe that somehow she managed to, by coincidence, get all the facts right: Direction of travel, where the stabbing occurred, direction of flight.”
Judge Steven Gercer acknowledged the defense’s arguments, but said they needed to be resolved by a jury and held Munoz to answer. He set a tentative trial date for October 17, 2022.
“I understand the defense’s arguments, especially with respect to Count 1, but the arguments you made really are credibility arguments that need to be assessed and resolved by a jury,” he said. “The evidence I heard is sufficient for a holding order as to Count 1, to Count 2, the use of a knife allegation as to count two, and as to special circumstances. I’ll hold him to answer.”