Suspect confesses to Florida triple slayings: documents

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 08, 2014 12:57 PM

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida man confessed to killing his wife, her friend and a pastor in a deadly spree witnessed by the clergyman's wife and the suspect's 4-year-old son, according to a police affidavit released on Monday.

Andres "Andy" Avalos, 33, was arrested on Saturday after a manhunt and charged in the murders on the state's west coast.

His son was at home on Thursday when his mother and her friend were killed, Manatee County Sheriff's Office investigators said in the documents. The child said his father was the only other person home.

Police found Amber Avalos, 33, suspended from a cord in the laundry room with severe injuries to her face and a gunshot wound to the chest, the affidavit said.

Denise Potter, 46, was found lying in a hallway with multiple gunshot wounds, it said.

The documents did not detail what the child saw at the home in Bradenton, Florida, about 45 miles south of Tampa.

Authorities believe Avalos subsequently headed to Bayshore Baptist Church, where his wife worked as the nursery and children's director, according to its website.

He stopped in the business office and spent about 20 minutes "rambling on about how the world was evil," Joy Battle, the pastor's wife and church secretary, told investigators, according to an arrest warrant.

The pastor learned that Avalos was there and headed to the office.

Avalos went outside to confront James "Tripp" Battle, 31, his wife told investigators.

She heard multiple gunshots and saw her husband fall to the ground, then watched Avalos walk away.

Authorities apprehended Avalos on Saturday at a trailer park in Bradenton near the church. He was found with a firearm matching the caliber of bullet casings from both murder scenes.

In an interview, he confessed to the murders, the affidavit said.

Avalos is being held in jail without bond.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Doina Chiacu)