Fernando Acosta, 25, is charged with premeditated murder after police said he stabbed his girlfriend, Martha Thy, multiple times on the side of a highway in Arizona in front of witnesses.
The criminal complaint states that Acosta attacked Thy after their vehicle crashed on State Route 101 in Peoria, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Witnesses reported seeing Acosta stab Thy repeatedly before they were able to subdue him.
Thy was pronounced dead at the hospital. Acosta was arrested and bond was set at $1 million, according to inmate records.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Criminal Complaint: Fernando Acosta Was Driving Martha Thy’s Vehicle When it Crashed During Morning Rush Hour In a Suburb of Phoenix
The attack happened on March 22, 2019, around 7 a.m., during morning rush-hour traffic. According to the criminal complaint embedded above, Fernando Acosta was driving Martha Thy’s vehicle, a white 2001 Lexus with California license plates.
Witnesses said the vehicle suddenly veered off the roadway. It went through a dry canal and collided with the “right-a-way fence line.” Acosta reportedly got out of the driver’s side door holding a knife.
Witnesses said Acosta confronted a man, identified by NBC San Diego as Gustavo Munoz, who had approached the vehicle to try to help. Acosta reportedly showed the knife and said, “What’s up? What you want to do?” Gustavo said he could see Martha Thy in the passenger seat and that she was covered in blood.
2. Police: Acosta Stabbed Martha Thy Repeatedly As Witnesses Yelled at Him to Stop
Fernando Acosta reportedly got back in the car through the driver’s side door after warning witnesses to stay back. The complaint states that Acosta began stabbing Martha Thy repeatedly as witnesses yelled at him to leave her alone and to drop the knife.
Police said Acosta then exited the vehicle again, walked around to the passenger’s side door, and continued stabbing Thy. She tried to escape by crawling out of the driver’s side door. But Acosta reportedly just walked back around the vehicle to continue the assault.
The police report reads, “As Thy was on her knees outside of the vehicle, Acosta approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, grabbed Thy by her hair and began stabbing her with the knife once again.”
3. Witnesses Managed to Tackle Acosta & Hold Him Until Police Arrived; Police Said Acosta Stabbed Martha Thy More Than 20 Times
According to the criminal complaint, witnesses who had stopped to try to help after seeing the crash managed to stop the assault. The complaint only includes that the witnesses “subdued” Acosta until police arrived.
Witness Gustavo Munoz described in more detail what happened to local news outlets. He explained to KNXV-TV that another man got a gun and “fired shots at the ground” in an attempt to distract Acosta and get him to stop stabbing the victim. Munoz said another witness managed to tackle Acosta. Several people held Acosta down police responded.
Munoz told NBC San Diego that Acosta was laughing as they held him down.
Martha Thy was rushed to Banner Thunderbird Hospital. Police said she was stabbed more than 20 times in the face and upper torso. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
4. Fernando Acosta Was Charged With Premeditated Murder & Aggravated Assault
Fernando Acosta was booked into the Maricopa County Jail soon after the attack. The complaint notes that Acosta received medical attention, but did not specify his injuries.
He has been charged with 1st-degree Premediated Murder and Aggravated Assault. In Arizona, premeditated murder is punishable by up to life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
Bond was set at $1 million, cash only. The criminal complaint notes that Acosta has no ties to the Maricopa County community and therefore poses a flight risk.
5. Martha Thy Was From Spring Valley, California, & Lived With Fernando Acosta
The criminal complaint against Fernando Acosta states that he and Martha Thy lived together. ABC San Diego reported that Acosta and Thy were in a romantic relationship. The landlord described Acosta as a “normal guy.”
They lived in Spring Valley, California. But they were reportedly planning to move to Arizona to be closer to Thy’s sister.
The complaint states that Acosta was employed by “Acosta Painting.” A search of the California Secretary of State website shows a company by that name that was first registered in 2015.
Police did not speculate about a potential motive for the attack.