No suspects or motive in slayings
Published 11:27 pm Sunday, August 24, 2008
Authorities still don’t know who is responsible for one of the bloodiest crimes in Shelby County history.
Police found five Hispanic men dead Aug. 20 at Cahaba Lakes apartments, off U.S. 280 behind Home Depot.
The men’s throats were slashed, and they were bound with tape or some other adhesive, Sheriff Chris Curry said.
Three of the victims have been identified: Ezequiel Rebollar-Perrban, 23; Jaime Echeverria, 30; and Armando Lopez, 20-30 years old.
Investigators know who the other two men are but won’t release names until the coroner’s office confirms identities and contacts relatives.
In the meantime, officers for dozens of local, state and federal agencies continue to work the case.
So far, investigators have no suspects — or motive — in the slayings.
“We have been working very hard to follow every lead, every piece of evidence,” said Curry. “I’d like to be able to give you a car description, a tag number and maybe even a height, weight and hair color … but we have absolutely no suspect information.”
Sheriff’s deputies discovered the bodies around 6 p.m. Wednesday after receiving a call from someone who asked them to check on a friend.
Deputies responded, and decided to enter the unit when no one answered the door. Inside they found the men dead on the living room floor.
“Something of this magnitude is horrific,” Curry said. “Any agency that has to deal with this many deaths … it’s difficult.”
Numerous agencies, including the sheriff’s office, Alabama State Troopers, U.S. Marshals and the FBI worked from the scene the first 48 hours.
The command post then moved to the sheriff’s office in Columbiana on Friday.
Investigators still must piece together key facts, such as when the men died and how they are connected.
Authorities also don’t know where the victims died — at the apartments or somewhere else.
“We have to look at that really hard,” said Curry. “That’s one of the major questions we’re dealing with.”
The sheriff’s office is waiting for more conclusive autopsies from the Alabama Department of Forensic Science. Those reports should say what day the men died and whether they had any drugs or alcohol in their systems.
Deputies found no weapon at the scene, and none of the men had any form of identification.
At least three of the victims were identified when their fingerprints turned up in a database. Curry wouldn’t say if any of the victims had a criminal record. There nationalities were not known Friday.
Investigators continue to follow leads in the case. Agents searched a home in the 2000 block of Valleydale Road on Thursday.
They towed away three vehicles, including a truck believed to have belonged to one of the victims.
A spokeswoman for Cahaba Lakes said apartment mangers are encouraged by “the progress being made by the law enforcement agencies.”
“We are confident that this was an isolated crime involving people linked to each other — not a random act of violence,” said Deborah Curler in an email. “We understand the shock felt by everyone in our community.”
The sheriff’s office is reaching out to the public, hoping to get information to crack the case.
“This is an anomaly in Shelby County,” said Curry. “Does the general public need to panic? No. Do they need to be concerned? Yes.”
Anyone with information should call the sheriff’s office at 669-4181 or through a secret witness line at 669-9116. Info can also be reported online at www.shelbyso.com.
Tips may be left in either English or Spanish and will remain anonymous.
A separate, Spanish-only line will be answered 24/7. That number is 1 (877) 298-3220.
A $30,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murders.