Merced police have not yet said how the victim was killed or what the motive may have been. But we have learned the suspect spent about a week in jail earlier this month on charges including child endangerment.
Family members gathered inside the Filipino Cuisine Restaurant in Merced Wednesday. One day after they say the owner, Benjamin Munsayac, was found dead inside an assisted living home for seniors. The owner's daughter tells Action News her father opened the restaurant about one year ago. A business card also lists him as the administrator of the care facility where his body was found.
"This happened so close to my house," said Patricia Carrow. "It does bother me a lot."
Neighbors were shocked to learn 21-year-old Evan Lovett was arrested for the murder. They say he worked at the home as a caregiver and was trying to earn enough money to take his girlfriend and baby back to his hometown in Alaska.
"I think he snapped," said Carrow. "I really do."
But Action News has learned Lovett was arrested in a separate case earlier this month. The 21 year old was booked into the Merced County Jail February 9th on drug and child endangerment charges. Authorities say he was being held on a $50 thousand bail until the court ordered he be released on February 16th. Just days later police arrested him for driving under the influence and then murder.
Lt. Bimley West said, "He had blood on his pants on his shoes and he stated that he was going to be leaving Merced to go to Mexico."
That's what witnesses told police Tuesday before they arrested Lovett. Investigators say he was driving the victim's car, and that's what led them to this assisted living home on Tuesday. Now detectives are now conducting interviews and trying to piece together exactly what happened.
Lovett is now being held on a million dollar bail. An autopsy on the victim has been scheduled for Thursday. Also, it appears the other six people who were living at the care facility have now moved out.