The family of 14-year-old Jose Nunez woke up Tuesday morning to find their front door wide open -- and the teen missing

By KC Baker
July 31, 2020 05:22 PM
Jose Nunez

A 19-year-old Connecticut man accused of murder is being held in lieu of a $2 million bond after allegedly luring a teen he’d been communicating with on Snapchat from his home and killing him, say police.

On Tuesday at about 5 a.m., Bridgeport resident Higinio Campos says he awoke to find the front door of his house wide open – and his stepson, Jose Nunez, 14, nowhere to be found, the distraught stepfather told reporters at a press conference Thursday.

“I knew something was wrong,” Campos said.

At 8:55 a.m. that morning, Nunez’s mother reported him missing. Campos said he told police that he believed he knew the identity of the man Nunez had left home with that morning after scouring social media for clues.

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Later that day, Bridgeport Police detectives say they received “unconfirmed information from a source that a homicide had been committed" and that "'the body was dumped' outside the city in another town,” according to an updated release from the Bridgeport Police Department on Friday.

Their investigation led officers on Wednesday to a wooded area on Wyant Road in Oxford, about 30 miles north of Bridgeport.

There officers found Nunez’s body.

An autopsy conducted by the state medical examiner determined the cause of death as strangulation and the manner of death as homicide, the release states.

“Throughout the course of the investigation, we had been closely surveilling a person of interest," Bridgeport Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald said at the press conference.

“That person was observed at the scene ... yesterday afternoon and he was taken into custody. He made admissions to his involvement.”

Based on what he allegedly told police, "the time of Nunez's death was approximately 2 a.m. on Tuesday," the release says.

On Wednesday, Diante Willoughby of Bridgeport was taken into custody after a motor vehicle stop on Route 67 in Oxford because police had probable cause to believe he was responsible for Nunez's death, the release says.

Diante Willoughby
Bridgeport Police Department

He is now charged with murder.

Initially set at $1 million, his bond was later raised to $2 million by the court, according to Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Scott Appleby.

Willoughby has not yet entered a plea. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

Nunez and Willoughby “had known each other for several months,” Fitzgerald said.

Detectives are still trying to track down “how they ended up together late Monday,” he said.

The case remains an active investigation "involving potential sex crimes," the release says.

In the meantime, Nunez’s family is devastated by the slaying of the high school freshman who loved snakes, basketball and video games.

Jose Nunez

“He’s gone and we’re never going to see him again, we’re never going to talk to him again,” Wendy Rivera, the victim’s aunt, told CBS New York. “I just want to hold him and hug him and kiss him and I can’t."

During the press conference, Campos warned parents about online predators.

“I want to make it clear to all parents: please take care of the kids with the phones," he said. "This guy was tricking him the whole time.

Willoughby was allegedly “able to get to him to Snapchat and lure him right out of my house," he said.

“The older guys can easily manipulate children. Take care of your children, please,” Campos said.

“We do ask the public to contact Bridgeport Police at 203-581-5205 if they feel they have been victimized by Willoughby in the past or have information regarding past criminal conduct involving Willoughby," the release says.