Deadly lover’s triangle in South Beach ends with Canadian fugitive in Thailand back in Miami

Three years ago, police say, a jealous Canadian named Matthew McGowan stalked a man who had briefly dated his girlfriend, then gunned him down outside a South Beach apartment building.

Before detectives could arrest McGowan, he flew one-way to Dubai and vanished.

But McGowan is now back on American soil after prosecutors succeeded in extraditing him from Thailand. In the custody of U.S. marshals, McGowan landed on a flight at Miami International Airport early Friday and was immediately booked into a Miami-Dade jail.

He is being charged with second-degree murder of Jose Alberto Martinez Valenzuela. At the time, the case received minimal media attention — Valenzuela was ambushed on a residential block of Lincoln Road days after Hurricane Irma struck South Florida.

The extradition was secured by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Extradition Unit, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Marshals, along with Interpol, the FBI and Miami Beach police.

McGowan, 31, hailed from Toronto, where he met his girlfriend. They moved to South Florida in April 2016.

But according to an arrest warrant, the relationship was stormy — the woman told police that McGowan drank too much, cheated and used steroids. During one of their breakups, she met Valenzuela, who worked as a dancer at South Beach’s Twist nightclub and a security guard at La Cueva bar.

Valenzuela and the woman dated only about two weeks, police learned. The woman returned to McGowan, who found out about the fleeting relationship.

McGowan began to “challenge, stalk and threaten” Valenzuela, even creating a fake Instagram account of a woman in trying to “lure” the man into a showdown, police said.

On Sept. 16, 2017, about 4:20 a.m., police believe McGowan parked his Toyota Corolla outside Valenzuela’s apartment building. A witness saw McGowan retrieve a shotgun, confront Valenzuela, chase him down and fire about five times, the warrant said.

Valenzuela, shot in the head, was taken to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He died after six days in a coma.

Miami Beach homicide detectives pieced together the case through witnesses and surveillance footage showing McGowan and his car at and near the scene, according to the warrant. Police later found McGowan’s Toyota, which had been sold to CarMax, and found five spent bullet casings inside the trunk — casings just like ones found at the scene.

Detectives found that McGowan left Miami on a one-way ticket to Dubai.

Thai authorities arrested McGowan in November 2018, and he’d been in custody ever since. A Thai appeals court, at the end of February, rejected McGowan’s appeal, according to the Bangkok Post.