Gwen Araujo, who was undergoing hormone therapy and going by the name of Gwen Amber Rose Araujo at the time, met Michael Magidson, Jose Merél, Jaron Nabors, and Jason Cazares in the summer of 2002. She was reported to have engaged in oral sex with Magidson and anal sex with Merél. She allegedly claimed to be menstruating and during sex would push her partners’ hands away from her private area to prevent them from discovering that she had male sex organs. On October 3, 2002, she attended a party at a house rented by Merél and his brother, Paul Merél. Also in attendance at the party were Magidson, Jose Merél, Nabors, Cazares, Paul Merél, Paul Merél’s girlfriend Nicole Brown, and Emmanual Merél.
At the party on October 3, 2002 she was discovered, by forced inspection (conducted by Brown), to have male sex organs, following which the men with whom she had sexual relations with became violent. Magidson put Araujo in a chokehold. Later, he punched Araujo in the face and began to choke her, but was pulled off by others. At some point after that, Paul Merél, Emmanuel Merél, and Brown left the house. Jose Merél struck Araujo in the head with a can of food and a frying pan. Nabors and Cazares left in Magidson’s truck to go to Cazares’s house to get shovels and a pickaxe.
When Nabors and Cazares returned, Araujo was still conscious and sitting on the couch. At some point, the assault resumed. Magidson kneed Araujo in the head against the living room wall, rendering her unconscious. Cazares kicked Araujo. After this, Araujo was taken to the garage of the home. Nabors testified that Magidson strangled Araujo with a rope and that Cazares struck Araujo with a shovel, but Magidson testified that it was Nabors who strangled Araujo and struck her with the shovel, and Cazares testified that he never struck Araujo and did not see Araujo die.Most accounts have Merél cleaning blood out of the carpet at the time that she was strangled. Araujo was then hog-tied, wrapped in a blanket, and placed in the bed of a pick-up truck. They then drove Araujo’s body four hours away and buried her near the Sierra Nevada mountains. Araujo’s disappearance and murder went unreported for days. It is not clear at what point during this sequence of events Araujo’s death occurred. However, the autopsy showed that she died from strangulation associated with blunt force trauma to the head.