Authorities announce suspect in Perris cemetery killings

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A 33-year-old Mexican national is suspected of killing three men execution-style at a Perris cemetery, and Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco today asked the public’s assistance in finding him.

“At this time, we believe this person acted alone in the homicide. He should be considered armed and extremely dangerous,” Bianco said. “Do not make contact with him. Notify law enforcement immediately.”

Jose Luis Torres Garcia, who also goes by “Jose Torres Garcia” and “Ismael Garcia Gutierrez,” was identified as the alleged murderer, taking the lives of Jaime Covarrubias Espindola, 50, Jose Maria Aguilar-Espejel, 38, and Rodrigo Aguilar-Esepjel, 28.

Bianco said that the suspect is known to frequent the Perris and Mead Valley areas, as well as San Mateo. He has an active DUI arrest warrant in Riverside County and a drug-related warrant out of San Mateo. He has been deported from the U.S. twice, according to the sheriff.

Bianco would not elaborate on a possible motive, including whether the slayings were tied to cartel violence south of the border, saying only that Garcia was with the three victims all night leading up to the killings.

“The suspect and victims knew each other,” Bianco said. “The normal resident of Perris has nothing to fear from him. This was not a random killing. There was a reason for the four of them to be together.”

He acknowledged the possibility that Garcia has already fled to Mexico and said sheriff’s detectives were “working with our counterparts across the border” as the investigation progresses.

Garcia is 5 feet 9 inches, 180 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. He was last driving a 2001 dark blue GMC Yukon, California license plate 4PDH363, according to Bianco.

The warrant signed for the suspect’s arrest carries a $3 million bond requirement.

Bianco said citywide surveillance video footage in Perris helped identify Garcia, as well as statements from witnesses. The sheriff would not discuss specific evidence allegedly linking him to the slayings.

The victims were found shortly after daybreak Monday at Perris Valley Cemetery in the 900 block of North Perris Boulevard. Their bodies had been left adjacent to a grave.

“Three people killed at the same time — that was a message for something, whether it was for someone else, or for them,”  Bianco said. “It certainly is not the norm.”

The sheriff acknowledged hearing of speculation that the men’s deaths may have been tied to the killing of a 36-year-old restaurateur who was abducted and fatally shot on a roadside in Mexico in December. The victim’s grave possibly was the one at which the men’s bodies were discovered.

Bianco said other recent homicides in Perris were not connected to the latest killings, despite social media gossip.