DNA links uncle to deaths of 3 children

Blood of one victim, suspect found on glove in car, sources say

2 illegal immigrants charged in killings

July 24, 2004|By Allison Klein and Ryan Davis | Allison Klein and Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

A bloody glove discovered in a car trunk links the uncle of three Mexican children killed in Northwest Baltimore to their deaths, sources familiar with the investigation said after seeing the results of DNA testing.

The glove was found in the trunk of Policarpio Espinoza's car, and tests on it revealed his blood and the blood of one of the children, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because of a court-imposed gag order in the case.

The blood evidence appears to conflict with the account given to police by Espinoza, 22, who is charged in the May killings, the sources said. Espinoza told investigators that he waited in a car while the children's cousin, Adan Espinoza Canela, 17, was in the Falstaff apartment at the time the killings apparently took place, according to court documents.

It is unclear whether detectives have DNA evidence linking Canela to the killings. The police crime lab is continuing to run DNA tests on more evidence collected in connection with the killings of the immigrant children.

Before the discovery of Espinoza's DNA on the glove, the case against the suspects was circumstantial, sources said.

The two suspects, who are in the country illegally from Mexico, were arrested May 28, the day after the killings. Each was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, three counts of conspiracy to commit murder and three counts of using a deadly weapon.

Arraignments for the men are scheduled for Sept. 7 before Circuit Judge John M. Glynn. They are being held without bail.

Victims Ricardo Solis Quezada Jr. and his sister, Lucero Solis Quezada, both 9, and their 10-year-old male cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada, were killed in their apartment after returning home from school the afternoon of May 27.

One child was decapitated, and the others partially beheaded. Police say they have not established a motive for the killings.

Espinoza accused Canela of killing the children while Espinoza waited in a car at the scene of the killings, in the 7000 block of Park Heights Ave., according to charging documents.

Espinoza told investigators that Canela emerged from a window of the apartment without a shirt and said he had been playing with the children, the documents said. In his account to police after being arrested, Espinoza said he never entered the Park Heights Avenue apartment the day of the killings.

Knife was found

Detectives found a filet knife near the site of the killings and a bloody shirt in the home the two suspects shared in the 4100 block of Bedford Road in Baltimore County. It is unclear whether police have been able to get conclusive DNA tests from the blood on the shirt.

The children's mothers, Noemi Quezada and Andrea Espejo Quezada, also were in the country illegally from Mexico. They ran a small mobile taco stand in Baltimore.

Noemi Quezada, mother of Ricardo and Alexis, is Andrea Espejo Quezada's aunt.

The women are originally from Tenenexpan, Mexico, a small village on the country's eastern coast that is known for its mango trees.

As is customary for a funeral, they returned to Mexico last month to bury their children in Tenenexpan. During the emotional service, family members wailed and wondered aloud who could have committed such an act.

The Quezada women returned to Baltimore last week. Although they entered the country illegally, federal immigrant authorities permitted them to go to Mexico for the funeral and then return to the United States because local prosecutors want them as witnesses in the case.

According to charging documents, Ricardo Espinoza, the father of Ricardo and Lucero, found the children after arriving home about 5:15 p.m. He noticed the apartment door was locked from the inside and found the dead children after he entered through the kitchen window.

Baltimore police arrived 10 minutes later and found two children dead in one bedroom and a third child dead in another bedroom.

'Suspicious manner'

As friends and relatives of the children gathered nearby to grieve, someone told police that two men had been "acting in a suspicious manner" a few days earlier outside the victims' apartment window.

That witness pointed police to two men who were speaking to the family members, and Espinoza and Canela were taken to the Police Department's homicide section for questioning.

After the two were advised in Spanish of their rights to remain silent and to have a lawyer present, Espinoza agreed to talk. It is unclear from court documents whether Canela made any statements.

The men came to the United States by walking across the Arizona desert. Canela arrived in Baltimore in February last year to live with his father, Victor Espinoza.

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