Man guilty of killing Naperville man, dumping body in Chicago


The triggerman in an execution-style slaying in Naperville has been convicted of first-degree murder following a four-day DuPage County jury trial.

Ernest Collins, 27, of Rockford, is one of three people charged in the death of Naperville resident Michael Armendariz, whose body was discovered in a Chicago garbage can several months after his Jan. 14, 2018, killing, according to the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said Armendariz was lured out of his Whispering Hills Drive apartment by Cassandra Green, 26, also of Rockford, who sent him a Snapchat message. After he got into her SUV about 9:10 p.m., Collins emerged from a hiding spot in the rear and shot Armendariz twice in the back of the head, a news release said.

They then drove to the home of Green’s mother, Candice Jones, 43, on Chicago’s Southwest Side, placed Armendariz’s body in a garbage can, stored it in Jones’ garage and later moved it to the garage of a vacant house next to Jones’ home, where it was discovered several months later, the release said.

Collins and Green allegedly used a key they took from Armendariz to burglarize the dead man’s apartment, prosecutors said.

At the time of their arrests, prosecutors described Green as Armendariz’s childhood friend and said the crime was allegedly plotted by Collins, who was Green’s boyfriend, and Jones, who is Collins’ mother. The murder weapon and other evidence was reportedly recovered from Jones’ home, according to reports.

Prosecutors also alleged at the time of the arrests that Jones was the “mastermind” of the crime and provided her son with the gun, telling him “you’re going to do this.” The day after Armendariz was killed, Jones also threatened Green, telling her she would kill her and her mother if Green told anyone about the killing, reports said.

Green, who prosecutors said in 2019 made a confession to police, reportedly told investigators the three had tried unsuccessfully to rob Armendariz on at least four occasions prior to Jan. 14 after seeing him in social media photos with drugs and cash.

Armendariz was reported missing Jan. 18, 2018. An investigation conducted by the Naperville and Chicago police departments led to the arrest of Collins and Green on Feb. 4, 2019, in Rockford and Jones on Feb. 6, 2019, in Chicago, the release said.

A jury needed just an hour and a half to find Collins guilty of murder and armed robbery with a firearm, both class X felonies.

Collins, who has been held without bond since his arrest, is next scheduled to be in court Nov. 29. He could be sent to prison for life when sentenced.

Green and Jones await trial on the same charges as Collins, with Green next set to be in court Oct. 16 and Jones on Oct. 19.

“This senseless murder left Michael’s family and friends with just his memory as they continued their lives without him,” State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement. “While nothing can be done to bring Michael back to those who loved him, perhaps today’s guilty verdicts will bring some measure of solace knowing the man responsible for his murder will be held accountable.”


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