Pictured is Nathaniel Carrillo,16, walking out of metro court after being arraigned Monday afternoon for participating in the beating of two homeless men in Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)
Pictured is Gilbert Tafoya ,15, walking out of metro court after being arraigned Monday afternoon for participating in the beating of two homeless men in Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)
Pictured is Alex Rios, 18, making an appearance on video for an arraignment in metro court Monday afternoon for participating in the beating of two homeless men in Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)
Albuquerque police were at the scene where two men were found dead in a open area just north of Central Avenue at 60th Street on Saturday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)
— There is a newer version of this story: Bond set at $5M each for teen murder suspects
Police said three Albuquerque teenagers took turns smashing cinder blocks on the heads of two sleeping homeless men, killing both in an attack so brutal that police haven’t been able to identify the victims.
And one of the teenagers told APD police the three friends have attacked dozens of homeless people at random throughout the city in the last year.
Alex Rios, 18, Nathaniel Carrillo, 16, and Gilbert Tafoya, 15, were all arrested late Saturday on two open counts of murder and other charges, according to jail records.
Tafoya told police they have attacked as many as 50 homeless people in recent months, according to the criminal complaint, and police are asking possible victims to come forward.
The men’s bodies were found by a passerby at 8 a.m. Saturday in a field near 60th and Central.
“They are unrecognizable,” Simon Drobik, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said of the victims. “My question is: Who failed these kids? How did it get to this point? It was so violent. I was sick to my stomach. Homicide (detectives) had a hard time dealing with it.”
Carrillo and Tafoya lived with their father at a home just north of the empty lot where the bodies were found, according to the complaint.
Police said the two men were asleep when the attack started. The teens also attacked a third man in the field, Jerome Eskeets, who had also been asleep but escaped and helped police identify the attackers, according to the complaint. He told police they wore black T-shirts over their faces as masks. As he ran, one of the teens yelled at him, Eskeets said, and that helped him recognize the youth as a nearby resident.
He also told police the teenagers had attacked several homeless people in the area in recent months.
Police found blood on Tafoya’s clothes and more blood on clothes found inside the home. Police also recovered a debit card and what may be the driver’s license of one of the deceased, according to the criminal complaint.
The three teens told police Tafoya and his girlfriend broke up and he was upset, so they went out late Friday night looking for people to beat up, according to the complaint.
In addition to the cinder blocks, the three young men also kicked and punched the two men and beat them with a metal pole and sticks, according to the complaint.
“They went over there with the intent to hurt the individuals in this lot,” Drobik said at a news conference Sunday.
Drobik said all three teens are facing the same charges. Rios is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center and Carrillo and Tafoya are at a juvenile detention center. Drobik said all three will likely be tried in adult court.
Richard Peralta, who lives east of where the beating happened, said several homeless people stay in the area and usually sleep and hang out in the field.
“The homeless people never bother us,” he said. “They are people and deserve the same respect as you, me or whoever.”
A man at Carrillo’s and Tafoya’s home on Sunday afternoon declined to comment.
Because Tafoya had boasted of attacking more than 50 homeless people, Drobik said police are asking any other possible victims to come forward.
“We’re are asking anybody in the social system who knows someone that expressed they have been attacked, that they reach out to those people to have them come to us and let us know what happened to them,” Drobik said. “We want justice for everyone.”
People with information can contact police at 242-COPS or call Crime Stoppers.
Drobik said police want to interview any homeless people attacked by the suspects so they can determine if Rios, Carrillo or Tafoya had any connection to a homeless woman who police said was intentionally run over with a truck near Second Street and Iron on June 9.
“A small clue, maybe a description of a truck, could tie everything up,” Drobik said.