Boyfriend Arrested in Murder of Lakeland Woman

The boyfriend of a Lakeland woman wanted for questioning in her murder was arrested in Orlando on Wednesday morning.

According to Polk County Sheriff’s officials, Jarol Santiago, 40, was taken into custody on active warrant in the murder of Diana Mercado by Orange County Sheriff’s deputies.

He was arrested on the active warrant out of Polk County around 11 a.m.

Santiago will be taken to the Polk County Jail and will be charged with first-degree murder.

Mercado, 33, was last seen leaving her home for work on April 28. Her body was found two days later, wrapped in a tarp and hidden in a wooded area behind her home on Pathfinder Trail in Lakeland.

Investigators say she was stabbed to death, and that she had suffered broken ribs, a broken collar bone and a broken pelvis.

Detectives said Mercado told them the couple had fought on the car ride to Dunkin Donuts, where Mercado worked, and that Mercado stabbed herself and was run over by the car when she jumped out of it.

Santiago has a lengthy criminal history in Massachusetts that includes arrests for assault and battery with a knife, attempted murder and drug charges.

Santiago will make his first appearance before a Polk County judge on Friday afternoon.