The well-known owner of a Mexican bakery in north Oak Cliff is accused of killing a popular artist early Sunday after the pair live-streamed an interview on social media, Dallas police say.
Manuel Tellez interviewed Anthony Moreno at Maroches Bakery, in the 1200 block of West Davis Street, about Moreno’s artwork depicting sugar skulls that was on display in the shop, an arrest-warrant affidavit says — then killed him in an alley a couple of blocks away a short time later.
Tellez, who faces a murder charge, does not have an attorney listed in court records.
The affidavit does not spell out a motive for the slaying, but it notes that Tellez, 45, and Moreno, 52, shared “a romantic interest” in the same woman.
After the men finished the Instagram Live interview, Moreno texted his wife about 12:15 am Sunday saying he would soon head home, according to the affidavit. Sometime before 2 am, the men walked to an alley a couple of blocks away on Kings Highway, where police say Tellez stabbed Moreno to death.
Tellez left, then returned about 3 am with gasoline and set Moreno’s body on fire, according to the affidavit. Surveillance footage from a nearby house captured the blaze.
Cellphone records and surveillance video from a nearby gas station show Tellez’s movements, according to the affidavit. Tellez, wearing a white latex glove, is seen on camera filling a portable gas can about 2:10 am The same type of glove was collected at the crime scene, according to the affidavit.
A detective wrote in the affidavit that the footage showed Tellez wearing a surgical mask and a baseball cap to conceal his identity, but that his SUV has distinct rust spots on the passenger side of the roof that could be seen in the video.
Moreno’s family reported him missing Sunday. Police did not publicly identify him as the victim until Thursday, when they announced Tellez’s arrest on a murder charge.
On Monday, Tellez posted a link on Facebook to a GoFundMe account for the victim’s family.
Moreno’s wife commented on it, upset.
“OMG I can’t believe he shared this! He killed my husband and made it seem like everything was normal,” Ofelia Moreno wrote.
Moreno’s family did not respond to requests for comment.
Latinos in the Dallas arts community said they were shocked by the slaying of the artist — and the arrest of Tellez. His bakery on West Davis Street has been a family-friendly cultural space for music, poetry and Mexican crafts through the years.
“My heart goes out to the families,” said Ofelia Faz Garza, who had read poetry at the bakery.
Others said they were too shocked by the violence to comment publicly, but said their sympathies were with the families of everyone involved.
Dallas artist Modesto Aceves said he met Moreno in 2018, when Moreno was trying to form a group of artists to put on shows together.
The two remained friends, and Aceves said they would often go to art shows together. He said his friend was a hard worker and a strong supporter of other artists.
“He was a good motivator. He always got your back,” Aceves said.
The two had spoken the day before Moreno was killed, Aceves said. Moreno invited him to an art show that day, but he wasn’t able to make it.
On Sunday, Aceves saw posts on Facebook saying that Moreno was missing. He texted his friend to ask if he was OK, but never got a response. He read about Moreno’s death shortly after.
“It really hit me hard because if I would have been with him, maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” Aceves said.
Aceves also knew Tellez and would visit Maroches Bakery with Moreno. He said he never heard his friend say anything negative about Tellez. He said he watched part of the pair’s live-streamed interview and said nothing seemed off.
“When I heard he was the one, I go, ‘Gosh.’ I couldn’t believe it,” Aceves said.
Moreno recently described the art he created to the online publication CanvasRebel and said the focus of most of his work is “strength, importance and visually showing that the definition of love is woman.” He said he used wood carvings, sheets of vinyl-like plastic and hand-cut glass to create two-dimensional pieces.
“I’m a romantic and was raised by very strong-willed women,” Moreno said.
Mayor Pro Tem Chad West, whose district includes north Oak Cliff, said in written statement he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Moreno’s slaying.
“Our hearts go out to Anthony Moreno’s family as they navigate this difficult time,” West said.
Maroches Bakery is known for selling home-style Roscas de Reyes cake for the Catholic holiday Three Kings Day. Orders start coming into the bakery months before the January holiday.
In 2018, Tellez defended a large colorful mural on the side of his bakery before the city’s Landmark Commission, which had considered erasing the art because the shop is within the Winnetka Heights Historic District. His cause garnered support and the mural remained.
The shop was open Friday and customers came and went. Employees declined to comment on the case. Neighbors near the alley where Moreno was killed also declined to speak to a reporter.
Tellez remained in the Dallas County jail Friday, with bail set at $1.5 million.
Staff photographer Rebecca Slezak contributed to this report.