ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Three teenagers ganged up on two homeless men and fatally beat them before leaving their bodies nearly unrecognizable, Albuquerque police said Sunday.
Alex Rios, 18, and two boys, ages 16 and 15, are being held in Bernalillo County detention facilities a day after allegedly killing the victims in an open field, police spokesman Simon Drobik said.
A criminal complaint filed by police says Rios has been charged with two counts each of murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree felony and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He also faces three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and one count each of tampering with evidence and robbery.
The younger boys will likely be charged with murder as adults, Drobik said. The Associated Press is withholding their names because of their age.
"I personally, after reading that complaint, was sick to my stomach because of the nature of the violence and the age of the offenders," Drobik said.
Officers responded Saturday around 8 a.m. to a 911 call reporting two bodies in a field. They found one victim lying on a mattress and another lying on the ground. Jerome Eskeets, a third victim who said he was able to flee, was hospitalized for his injuries.
Eskeets told police that he recognized one of the "kids" hitting and kicking him as someone who lived in a house nearby. Police went to the home and found the three suspects, according to the complaint. The homeowner identified the 15 and 16-year-old as his children and Rios as a friend who had spent the night.
Investigators say in the complaint that blood on the waist band of 15-year-old's shorts triggered further investigating and interviews with all three.
Rios told investigators he acted as a lookout while the other boys attacked both men with bricks, sticks and a metal fence pole. He said the victims were struck all over, including in the face and chest.
The younger suspects, however, told police that Rios also took part in the attacks. Both boys said they wanted to look for someone to beat up and possibly rob.
Both describe how all three covered their faces with black T-shirts before walking over to the victims, who were lying down. Then the trio allegedly used various objects to attack the men, including cinder blocks. According to the 15-year-old, they all took turns picking up cinder blocks over their heads and smashing them into the men's faces more than 10 times.
The suspects said after the attack, they took one victim's driver's license and debit card. The license was found in the teens' home, police said.
According to the 15-year-old, all three have previously attacked homeless people around Albuquerque. Police are now going to look into open cases involving attacks on transients to see if they are related, Drobik said.
Meanwhile, investigators have not yet officially confirmed the identities of the two victims. Their transient background and the severity of their injuries have made identifying them somewhat difficult, Drobik said.
The department is asking anyone in the homeless community with information to get in touch with them. Drobik said any transients uncomfortable approaching police can also contact them through any social service agency.
"Just please come forward," Drobik said.