Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Mystery over cemetery slayings sparks fear and rumors in California town

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat  Source:::LA Times  TY BBB Follower

On a brisk Sunday evening, four men shared food and drinks before stumbling the next morning into a humble little cemetery dotted with leafless trees.


They came to pay their respects to an old friend, Uver Hernandez Castañeda.

Only one of the men would walk out of Perris Valley Cemetery.

Near the grave of Hernandez Castañeda lay the bodies of three of the men. The fourth, Jose Luis Torres Garcia, has become the subject of a manhunt.

Detectives say the 33-year-old Torres Garcia killed Jaime Covarrubias Espindola, 50; Jose Maria Aguilar-Espejel, 38; and Rodrigo Aguilar-Espejel, 28.

Jose Luis Torres Garcia, 33, is suspected of killing three men in a cemetery.


The triple killing Feb. 17 in this Riverside County town of nearly 78,000 people caused a ripple of fear after the sheriff invoked the specter of cartel involvement.

Sheriff Chad Bianco was attempting to quell residents’ concerns at a news conference, saying they should not feel in danger and that the killings were not related to several others in the county. On Feb. 2, a man was shot at an Arco gas station across from Perris’ Mariscos Playa de Ixtapa restaurant, and 10 days later, a man was killed at a nearby park. (A couple of days after the cemetery killings, three women were found dead in pools of blood inside a home in nearby Hemet.)

“We’re receiving some of the same information that you are, that it’s gang related, that it’s cartel related,” Bianco said. “We’re looking into all of that.”

Suspect
The sheriff didn’t answer questions about how the men were killed, whether a weapon was used or how they were found. Autopsies were completed Monday, but coroner officials referred questions to homicide investigators. The investigator on the case, Alberto Loureiro, declined to speak to a Los Angeles Times reporter about the details.

Asked during the news conference if the men were killed “execution-style,” Sheriff Bianco said: “You could get into semantics of what you would call it, but it certainly seems that way.”

No motive has been established for the killings. But that hasn’t stopped rumors from flowing in town.

The grave the men had been visiting belonged to a man who met a violent end just months before, more than 1,700 miles away in central Mexico. Hernandez Castañeda had been tortured and murdered near the highlands of Opopeo, in the state of Michoacán, while on his way to visit family for the holidays.

On Dec. 18, he was driving a white Range Rover to his family’s home in Turicato, Michoacán, a town dominated by a strong cartel presence, according to Mexican news reports.
He never made it. On Dec. 20, his family reported him missing, and two days later, his body was found with gunshot wounds and other “signs of violence” near Opopeo, a pueblo of less than 9,000 people where locals have formed self-defense teams against drug traffickers.

On social media and at the cemetery, family and friends insisted he had no enemies. He was remembered as a kind, giving father and husband who had inadvertently become entangled in the violence convulsing parts of Mexico.

On a recent morning, a crowd of curious cemetery visitors gathered to take a peek at the grave of Hernandez Castañeda. Suddenly, a white Nissan SUV drove into the cemetery. A man in a black T-shirt and a woman dressed all in orange exited the vehicle with their young son and walked toward Hernandez Castañeda’s grave. Seeing the family approach, the small group scattered.
 

                                       Brother at the grave of Uver Hernandez Castañeda.

The woman identified herself as the sister-in-law of Hernandez Castañeda. According to her, the man had lived in the U.S. for 20 years with his family. But he had a lover, she said.
Hernandez Castañeda’s sister-in-law said the woman apparently had a powerful lover in Mexico. When Hernandez Castañeda made the holiday trip to his home country, he was killed, his sister-in-law said. Like many others interviewed by The Times, she declined to allow her name to be used, citing concerns about her safety.

“There’s no justice in Mexico,” she said, shaking her head as she looked down at her brother-in-law’s headstone.

By the time the family visited Hernandez Castañeda’s grave, it had been cleaned of any signs that something horrible had happened there in recent days. Under a beaming sun, a wooden crucifix lay over his flat headstone, partially hiding an engraving: “Don’t be saddened by my absence, I haven’t left your side … You can’t hear my voice, but I’m still with you.”

Earlier that morning, the sound of crows squawking and doves cooing in the early morning was slowly replaced by chatter and cumbia music as families settled in to spend time with deceased loved ones, laying folding chairs, blankets and snacks on the green grass feet away from Hernandez Castañeda’s grave.

A woman who identified herself as the sister-in-law of Uver Hernandez Castañeda said the man was not involved in cartel activity.

One woman, who only gave her name as Victoria, ventured across the cemetery to visit Hernandez Castañeda’s headstone. She was merely curious. But she turned around before getting too close. Suddenly, she worried about whether the wrong person might be watching.
“It’s better to say you don’t hear anything, because people could be watching,” the woman said. “It’s better to observe from a distance.”

A cemetery employee and his friend — who both asked to remain nameless — nervously tiptoed around the idea that the triple killing might be cartel-related.

“I don’t want to know a thing about that,” the employee said.

The town of Perris is a hot spot for tourists who visit Perris Lake and enjoy adventures like skydiving and hot air balloon rides. The “skydiving capital of America” rarely makes news — except when skydiving tragedies occur.

It’s a family-oriented town that has appealed to locals for its calmness and safety. More than 75% of the population is Latino.

Olivia Moreno de Gonzalez, who identified herself in a phone interview as the owner of Mariscos Playa de Ixtapa, said she had been busy fending off rumors, including that Hernandez Castañeda was the owner, rather than an employee. One of the victims of the cemetery killings, Covarrubias Espindola, was also an employee, she said.

“Many things people are saying are lies, and it’s affecting us,” Moreno de Gonzalez said. “Honestly, we’re the same as you. We don’t know anything.”
 

            The Mariscos Playa de Ixtapa restaurant, where two of the slain men worked.
                                    (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

At a local swap meet, a woman selling religious memorabilia said she remembered two men who showed up looking for candles and a prayer book for their cousin. They told her he had been killed in Mexico. She recognized a crucifix she sold as one that ended up on Hernandez Castañeda’s headstone. But the woman said she could not remember who purchased it.
Back in the cemetery, Hernandez Castañeda’s brother knelt in front of the grave and removed the crucifix and two flowers that had been lying there. He wiped the headstone somberly. His brother, he said, was not involved in any cartel activity, despite his slaying and the strange one that befell three men at his plot.

“Everyone who knows us knows it’s not what people are thinking,” he said.

The morning of the killings, the man said he got a call from a family friend.

“I see three men sleeping on your brother’s grave,” she told Hernandez Castañeda’s brother.
“I’ll be right there and I’ll see who they are,” he said. But before he could, she called again.
“I think they’re dead,” she said.

He raced to his brother’s grave to investigate for himself, but by then the cemetery was swarmed with sheriff’s deputies and investigators.


Hernandez Castañeda’s brother said he had a far simpler theory about the tragic event: The four men were drinking and got into a fight. It wasn’t unusual for his brother’s friends to visit his grave. He had told them repeatedly not to bring bottles to the cemetery, since drinking is forbidden on the grounds.

He was familiar with the four men, the brother said. One of them, Covarrubias Espindola, was a beloved chef at the Mariscos Playa de Ixtapa restaurant, who would leave his kitchen to ask guests whether they enjoyed his food and take personal dish requests from friends.
The other men he knew only as his brother’s friends. Nothing about the suspect, Torres Garcia, struck him as concerning.

“I don’t know this crazy mentality he had,” the brother of Hernandez Castañeda said.
He heard that one of the bodies lay to the right of his brother’s tombstone; the other two, to the left.

Other than that, he said, it’s all a mystery.

66 comments:

  1. Whoever killed the three men will wish they hadn’t. America isn’t Mexico. A triple homicide is likely to draw the attention of the FBI and rest assured once your identified the Americans will find you. Osama bin laden, mummar gaddafi, saddam Hussein and even shorty himself couldn’t hide forever

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    Replies
    1. Happens every day, several times a day in the USA.

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    2. Sorry buddy but the FBI doesn’t get involved just because the number of people is more than one. There has to be special circumstances. About this isn’t Mexico, you are right. But murders happen everywhere in the world. United States has had several people killed at once several times over. Even more than 30 people killed on one single occasion.

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    3. They find them because they work for them once you do something that crosses the line you no longer part of allied group cmon what makes you think FBI OR CIA OR DEA don't know where they are they always have known where they hide but a deal is always set at the table . this shit is bigger then anyone can imagine our own U.S government works for the cartels everyone does . don't forget america use to be like mexico back in the mafia days so who's to say that it won't return to how it first started, because it will . its in the best of interests for the FBI CIA DEA ETC ETC they are all the same only differents is they have more professional strategies and more organized

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    4. 6:31 I regret to inform you that, the FBI is investigating this matter too, they are in our city, I know for a fact, some wear thier jackets that say FBI, also it was a country lines issue, FBI gets involved.
      Concerned Perris resident

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    5. Oh yeah the government does the cartels dirty work here in the U.S.

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    6. Yeah just like they found Zodiac Killer or The Long Island Serial Killer.

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    7. Technically Mexico is in America....North America

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    8. 6:31 up to 2 murders it's the police.
      3-5 fbi
      5-10 cia
      10-30 x- men

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    9. 😂😂😂😂 This is a kid who doesn't know.....let him keep his delusions. Just like Santa Claus & Easter Bunny, its nice while it last.

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  2. This is an odd one, I tend to think it's not directly "cartel" or LFM related, but a feud spiraled out of control, and the graveyard is more incidental, than message. The suspect doesn't appear to be sophisticated or that connected. Driving a white new range rover in that part of Michoacan, is a red flag though, to an extent.

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    1. So it turns out the white SUV had nothing to do with it, it was a woman who had a powerful lover in Mexico. A lot "experts" here think they know better.

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  3. Great article Chivis , if only he left his Range Rover at home and taken his VW better he would be alive today.

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  4. Ur spreading the rumors...how come ur not covering the triple homicide in Hemet???....cartels have been in the US for decades this is nothing new not the first not the last...this could off been family revenge maybe drug deals gone bad who knows but one thing for sure around that area n restaurant like this one is well known that drugs are present n dealt in quantity...years back there was a shooting where few people died in a restaurant downtown perris didn't hit the front page Maybe cause the bodies weren't dumped at the cemetery..

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    Replies
    1. Perris has always been hot

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    2. Are you saying BB is spreading rumors, well how dare you, or perhaps your directing it to our famous Chivis? Boy you have your facts wrong, the article clearly states, the bodies were not dumped, no they were not rolled up in carpet.If you go back and read it again, it will tell you, they were shot at the cemetery. Ok Mr. Rumor.

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    3. This a news blog ok, deal with it.

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    4. 4:16 just like NBC they show what they want dumheads like u to believe 🖕...

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    5. There was information about this been cartel related. No one knows yet.

      The 3 women killed in Hemet was over rent dispute. So relax and enjoy the day.

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    6. This is facts. Cartel style violence/hits/tortures have been happening for years, heard about many in Modesto, CA

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    7. since you know so much, and are so concerned , go investigate it yourself

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    8. What Cartel controls perris…? ~@~

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    9. who controls Perris....specifically speaking, according to DEA it is Sinaloa. And in San Bernardino and Riverside it is sinaloa and LFM and has been that way for many years

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    10. Sinaloa meaning blo not cds

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  5. And the mystery widens, time to send in Sacario 006, to investigate further into this ongoing matter. Perris CA is now seeing more people, coming and going, seedy chariters in luxury cars.

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    Replies
    1. Sicarios 006 on his way to solve the problems.

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    2. 145 he has to clear Customs first, tell him to leave his grenades at home, bazooka too.

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    3. I'LL handle it!-
      English Zeta

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  6. I'm not trying to say he was involved in the cartel life but how does an employee at a restaurant without owning it afford a newer Range Rover ($60,000)? I know when I worked at a restaurant I could barely afford a $5000 vehicle

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    1. There family members are saying he was not into that type of life. Could be he finaced the River, but then again what knockle head drives into Mexico with it, death by suicide cartel.

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    2. Actually they're 120k and he owned 2 restaurants

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    3. 1:33 he was the owner of the restaurant

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    4. I literally jus asked the same thing.theres no way unless its a real high end place and hes getn 300-500 in tips a night

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    5. I think, you already know the answer.

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    6. Servers can make good money off tips, there are restaurants where they make $300-700$ a night. And no not Ruth’s Chris or some fancy joint. Plus there are dealerships that take 20% down payment cash and u can drive off in the car same day no questions asked for the finance. That’s only 12k off a 60k car

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    7. The person owned a restaurant the one murdered in Mexico I believe the people visiting his grave site where his employees

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    8. Exactly, you don't own the restaurant but you drive a range rover. Riverside county/ San Bernadino county is known as a hot bed for meth addiction. Michoacan is a known hotbed for meth production, it's not hard to start connecting the dots.

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  7. BB you now have more viewers on this website, people in Perris, citizens want to know, if cartel violence is happening in the city, crime has spiked.
    Concerned citizen from Perris, CA

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    Replies
    1. That whole city has had cartel violence for decades you got all the ranchos on the outskirts of the city

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    2. They are there they live amongst you

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    3. What else would it be? i don't see no other explanation

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  8. So the suspect has not been cought yet?

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    1. Nope they are saying he went into MEXICO to hide, now for sure he won't want to be in the USA anymore.

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    2. Is Perris the New Tijuana?

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  9. That's it I thought Perris was a good city, with all these killings going on, cartels wanting our town, I am moving West.
    Annabelle of Perris.

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    Replies
    1. Perris is home to the cartels but it took something like this to wake people up

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    2. Move to San Bernardino City..it's better there.

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  10. They have had some really big drug busts down in that area for yrs
    1990s The airport in Lake Elsinore
    They seized air planes heilocopters
    drugs So the gangs, drugs have been around a while there..
    Just more of them now
    Thinking its a revenge maybe ?
    We will soon find out more I am sure
    But bringing here on US soil at this time wont sit well with many many people


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  11. As a Local... The City of Perris and Surrounding areas are hot Hot Spots for Mexican Cartels.. LFM operates just outside of Perris.. Sinaloa Cartel operates in Both Perris and Moreno Valley. And the list goes on.. unfortunately,the USA/ Mexico border Tijuana is 1 1/2 hours away.. I really hope the FBI, Sheriffs Department and Local Community feel safe again. Im just surprised it hadn't happened sooner.. knowing all the rival Cartels are minutes from each other.

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    1. Then it is true Perris is becoming like Tijuana. Who is Sacario 006? Is he a special Agent from Mexico? New faces coming into town...those men wearing trench coats, clean shaven are FBI.

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    2. Sinaloa operates all over those areas n counties... Nuevo Mead valley Hemet lake Elsinore gavilan hills etc....

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  12. Jajaja apoko un simple cocinero puede traer una range rover en michoacan jaajjajaa?

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  13. I can't quester as why, the criminals are choosing our city, to commit crimes, kill people, I feel sorry for the guy that went to Mexico, in his car to see relatives, but never made it. He was murdered, and then buried here in our beautiful city of Perris. I wanted to leave a bougeut of flowers, but too many people were around his grave, I will try later.
    Perris resident k.p.

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  14. Great in-depth read, I knew thier was a chapter 2 to the story. They will make a movie out of this. Charles Bronson will play, the guy in a white range Rover, etc...

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  15. Where is the Range Rover? Will the co. go Mexico to reposes it? Bet you the criminals are happy driving a car that does not belong to them.

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  16. "Olivia Moreno de Gonzalez, who identified herself in a phone interview as the owner of Mariscos Playa de Ixtapa, said she had been busy fending off rumors, including that Hernandez Castañeda was the owner, rather than an employee." This is from the article saying he was not the owner, he was an employee

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  17. Why if the victim was killed in Mexico, would he be brought back to Perris, when he has relatives in Mexico, and could have been buried there.

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    1. He owned a restaurant in Perris, so likely means he lived there and family was there...visited relatives in Mexico.

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    2. 619 read the 12:03 entry regarding the seafood restaurant.

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  18. Arrested in Wyoming, with 15 pounds of marijuana

    https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/perris-cemetery-execution-style-murders/2318936/

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  19. They arrested the suspect in Wyoming... and he had 15 lbs of weed on him, so surely its all related to something.

    https://patch.com/california/lakeelsinore-wildomar/s/h14st/manhunt-ends-suspect-arrested-3-cemetery-slayings

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  20. The guy was caught in Wyoming today

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  21. I heard he got arrested, but did not mentioned, he was caught with pot. Killing 3 he man beings, will be locked up in the pokey for a long time.

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  22. If you’ve ever been to Perris you’d easily notice the amount of cartel money and activity in the area. “Construction” workers who don’t go to work and own a few Frisians and Andalucians on small ranches, parties every night,. The Sherrifs departments in on it with close ties to the imperial valley police departments.

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