Breaking News
More () »

Cleveland man arrested in Florida, charged with aggravated murder after woman found dead in Shaker Heights apartment

Police have not indicated how Maria Valenzuela died, but said the incident was 'not a random attack.' 24-year-old Christian Warner is currently in custody.

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Authorities have arrested a 24-year-old Cleveland man after a woman's body was found insider her Shaker Heights home earlier this week.

A family member of Maria Valenzuela told 3News police found her dead inside her apartment when they arrived for a welfare check on Tuesday. "She was a young, hardworking lady," Valenzuela's uncle Ray Stovall said. "We didn't hear from her for a while and it forced us to go to the police."

RELATED: More crime headlines from WKYC

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Officer confirmed to 3News it was called to an apartment building on Tolland Road Tuesday evening for a suspected homicide. Shaker Heights police later released a statement Thursday night confirming the investigation, saying "it was apparent that this was not a random attack."

With the help of state and federal officials, the department says it was able to track the suspect's whereabouts to a treatment center in Broward County, Florida. That man has been identified as Christian Warner, and he is currently in custody while he awaits extradition back to Northeast Ohio on a charge of aggravated murder.

According to the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts, Warner is being charged on the following: 

  • 2 counts of aggravated murder 
  • 2 counts of murder 
  • 1 count of felonious assault 
  • 1 count of aggravated robbery 
  • 1 count of grand theft 
  • 1 count of offenses against human corpse 
  • 1 count of tampering with evidence

According to Stovall, Valenzuela lived alone and drove a white Acura. She worked at Amazon and Instacart, and was also a waitress.

"She worked all the time because she had this dream of buying a BMW and living the life that she thought she deserved," Stovall added. "She had a lot of dreams and she worked towards those goals."

Bob Murray, president of Green Harvest Living Apartments, which oversees Tolland Apartments, says they are cooperating with police and have handed over surveillance video from the property. Authorities have not yet confirmed how Valenzuela died.

"During the course of the investigation, which is on-going, Shaker Heights Police maintained strict confidentiality in order to not compromise the investigation," the department wrote in reference to the days-long delay in making the information public.

Warner is expected to appear in court for an arraignment hearing on Feb. 24, at 8:30 a.m.

You can listen to a 911 call related to the incident below:

More crime coverage from WKYC:

Before You Leave, Check This Out