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Man accused of stabbing roommate, then setting fire to home to destroy evidence

Zachary Salinas, 31, is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree arson and tampering with evidence.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Police Department has arrested a man for allegedly stabbing his roommate before setting fire to their house to try to destroy the evidence.

Just before 11 p.m. Sunday, Austin's Emergency Communications Center received a call about a situation in the 9000 block of Meridian Oaks Lane, south of Slaughter Lane. The caller told 911 that his home was on fire.

Austin Fire Department crews and APD officers responded to the scene. Upon arrival, firefighters entered the house and located a man, later identified as 36-year-old John Ryan Kern, who appeared to have been stabbed. Kern died a short time later, according to police.

APD homicide detectives and crime scene specialists arrived to process the scene, and investigators spoke with the man who reported the house fire. Detectives learned that Kern, the man's nephew, was also his roommate.

Officers later located a third roommate, 31-year-old Zachary Salinas. According to APD, investigators determined that Salinas stabbed Kern to death and then attempted to burn down the home to destroy evidence.

Salinas was booked into the Travis County Jail and is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree arson and tampering with evidence.

Anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to contact APD at 512-974-TIPS. You may also submit your tip anonymously through the Capital Area Crime Stoppers Program online or by calling 512-472-8477.

APD said this is being investigated as Austin's 18th homicide of 2023.

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