Once there, he donned a blond wig, a silver purse, a pair of earrings, and a red dress. The cross-dressing Mendez prepared to go out -- he also worked part-time as a dancer for a Lake Worth club called Tenampa. His stage name was "Gaviota."
He never arrived.
And when he didn't show up the next day at Matteo's, his boss, his friends, and his family knew immediately something was wrong. A missing-person report was filed.
Until yesterday, no one was sure what had happened to the five-foot-seven man with the long black hair and the blond streaks.
Now, thanks of the work of a new squad of Boca Raton detectives specializing in reheating cold cases, Juan Carlos Atenco-Camacho, 24 (left) has been charged with Mendez's murder.
Police already knew that Atenco-Camacho was the last person to see Mendez that night in 2008. He told investigators that he'd briefly spoken to Mendez outside his apartment in the 1700 block of NW 15th Vista but that that was the last time he'd seen him.
Shortly after 1 a.m. on July 14, Atenco-Camacho was booked into PBSO after getting arrested for driving with a suspended license. Later that day, the cold-case detectives spoke to him. A few months ago, they'd subpoenaed his cell-phone records and proved he was lying about where he was that February night almost two-and-a-half years ago.
After confessing to the crime, Atenco-Camacho took the detectives to the canal near PGA Boulevard and Bee Line Road where he said he tossed Mendez's body (no remains were found). He also showed them an empty trailer in Palm Springs where he said he stabbed Mendez with a fishing knife.
According to police, Atenco-Camacho said the situation got tense between the pair when Mendez asked him to leave his wife and baby to be with him. That led to the drive to Palm Springs and the stabbing.
Atenco-Camacho told investigators he and Mendez did have sex. Once. He wanted them to know something else as well:
"I'm not gay," he told them.