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Manhunt underway for suspect in killing of 3 men in California cemetery

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- Authorities are looking for a man suspected of killing three men in a Perris cemetery near the grave of another man who was killed in Mexico in December, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said Thursday.

Investigators believe that 33-year-old Jose Luis Torres Garcia was with the three victims Sunday night, visiting restaurants with them before killing them at the cemetery at an unknown time and fleeing in a vehicle.

The men, whose bodies were found Monday, were identified as Perris residents Jaime Covarrubias Espindola, 50; Jose Maria Aguilar-Espejel, 38; and Rodrigo Aguilar-Espejel, 28. Sheriff Chad Bianco did not say how the men were killed.

At a Tuesday news conference, Bianco said detectives were investigating whether the killings were gang- or cartel-related.

"I mean, three people killed at the same time, that was a message for something, whether it was for someone else, or whether it was to them," Bianco said.

During Thursday's news conference, he said that Torres Garcia acted alone. Bianco said the killings were not random, and Perris residents are not in danger.

Mexican news outlets reported that the grave where the men were killed is that of 36-year-old Uver Hernandez Castaneda, who was killed in the Mexican state of Michoacan while on his way from the U.S. to visit family for the holidays. According to Mexican news outlets, authorities found evidence that he was shot and tortured.


Bianco said Torres Garcia has ties to Michoacan as well as San Jose. He has been deported from the U.S. twice, and has two outstanding warrants, one for a DUI in Riverside and another for a drug charge in San Mateo County.

The suspect's current immigration status is unknown, but he has spent time in the Perris-Mead Valley area, Bianco said.

Bianco said Torres Garcia is traveling either in a dark blue 2001 GMC Yukon SUV with a license plate 4PDH363 or a green Kawasaki motorcycle. He is considered armed and dangerous.

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