Relative of beheading suspects is arrested by federal officials

August 19, 2004|By Stephanie Hanes and Ryan Davis | Stephanie Hanes and Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

Federal officials have arrested a relative of the two suspects indicted in the beheading of three children in Northwest Baltimore in May, according to law enforcement officials.

Victor Espinoza, the father of one of the suspects and the brother of the other, is being held at the Dorchester County Detention Center, officials there said. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to discuss Espinoza's situation, including why he was arrested, saying the agency does not talk about cases that may affect other investigations.

It was unclear yesterday whether the arrest is connected to the homicide investigation. Despite making immediate arrests in the case, police are searching for a motive in the brutal killing.

Espinoza's 17-year-old son, Adan Canela, and 22-year-old brother, Policarpio Espinoza, have been indicted on first-degree murder charges.

The suspects and the dead children are members of the same extended family of Mexican immigrants, and some family members have not been helpful to detectives, investigators have said. An official familiar with the investigation said there are hopes that Espinoza's detention will make others more willing to talk.

Police have said that nearly all of the family is here illegally, but that Victor Espinoza is the only one being detained by federal officials.

The three children -- 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 Falstaff apartment May 27 after returning home from school. One child was decapitated, and the others were partially beheaded.

Victor Espinoza owns a Baltimore County home in the 4100 block of Bedford Road, where Canela and Policarpio Espinoza lived before the killing. According to Canela's mother, the teenager arrived in Baltimore in February last year to live with his father.

Last month, police received DNA test results that investigators say link Policarpio Espinoza to the killings. Tests results on a glove found in the trunk of Policarpio Espinoza's car were positive for his blood and the blood of one of the children, law enforcement sources said.

After the killing, detectives found a bloodstained shirt in the Baltimore County home, but it is unclear whether police have received conclusive DNA results from it.

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