Turlock police release identity of man stabbed to death

Police say stabbing was result of dispute over a woman

September 13, 2009 

TURLOCK — Police today identified the man killed in a stabbing early Saturday as Donald Dean Futch, 34, of Hughson. Futch died in an alley off of Colorado Avenue near Dutcher Middle School in what investigators described as a dispute over a woman.

Officers arrested Darren Merenda, 30, of Turlock and booked him into Stanislaus County Jail on a charge of murder. He remained in custody Monday, held without bail.

Detective Mike Parmley said the two men met in the alley behind the apartment complex where Merenda and the woman, Futch’s girlfriend, both lived.

Futch had sent Merenda a text message using the woman’s phone. Parmley would not divulge the contents of the message, but said the two men agreed to meet. They were in the alley about 3:40 a.m.

“I think they were there to talk,” Parmley said. “I think that was the victim’s impression, anyway.”

Futch’s 16-year-old son, Elias, said Monday that his father had been sending Merenda a message to leave the woman alone.

“My dad went to smoke outside, and this man jumped on his back and stabbed my dad,” Elias Futch said.

Parmley said police found cigarettes at the stabbing scene.

Donald Futch was stabbed “several times, mainly in the upper torso area,” Parmley said. A witness led police to Merenda at his apartment.

Police took Merenda to Emanuel Medical Center for treatment of a cut on his arm. Parmley would not say how Merenda got hurt, but said the wound did not appear self-inflicted.

Investigators found a bloody knife nearby; Parmley would not say exactly where but said it appeared the suspect tried to get rid of it. Police do not believe there are any other suspects, Parmley said.

Elias Futch said his father owned a business selling circuit breakers.

“He had me at a young age,” Elias Futch said. “He spent his entire life working and trying to support his family.”

Though Donald Futch and his wife recently divorced, he remained dedicated to his four children, who range from 11 to 16 years old, Elias Futch said. Finances were tight, but “he was always there to supply for us,” the younger Futch said.

“He loved going to my brother’s and my football games. He never missed a game.”

Donald Futch spent Friday evening at Elias’ first varsity game, cheering for his son, who plays running back and outside linebacker for Hughson High School.

“He always told me it was his dream to see me play varsity football,” Elias Futch said.

“I totally took him for granted back then.”

Police ask anyone with information about this stabbing to call Detective Mike Parmley at 668-5550, ext. 6626, or Crime Stoppers at 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

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