INDIANAPOLIS – An illegal immigrant serving five life terms for the strangling deaths of his wife, three young daughters and a neighborhood girl apparently took his own life Thursday by hanging himself, authorities said.
Simon Rios, 36, was found in his cell at the Pendleton Correctional Facility northeast of Indianapolis after noon Thursday, prison spokesman David Barr said. Rios was pronounced dead about 40 minutes later after guards and medical personnel couldn't revive him.
There were no signs of foul play, Barr said. An autopsy was scheduled.
Rios' attorney, Michelle Kraus, said he left a note requesting that his remains be returned to his native Mexico.
"I'm very sad. I know he did a very evil thing, and he always knew he did a very evil thing. He always expressed remorse to me," Kraus said.
The prosecutor in Rios' case said any remorse the man may have felt had little weight, given the heinous nature of his crimes.
"I don't want anybody to ever lose sight that he is not a victim here," Allen County prosecutor Karen Richards said Thursday. "He killed his wife and four little girls. They are the victims here."
On Dec. 8, 2005, Rios lured 10-year-old Alejandra Gutierrez, a former classmate of his eldest daughter, into his van as she waited at a school bus stop in Fort Wayne. Authorities say he raped and strangled her, then dumped her body in a gravel pit 50 miles away near Muncie.
Five days after killing Alejandra but before her body was found, Rios fatally beat and strangled his wife, Ana Casas-Rios, 28, and strangled their three daughters, Liliana, 10, Katherinne, 4, and 20-month-old Thannya, in their Fort Wayne home.
Police found Rios, then 33, on the front porch of his home after receiving an early morning suicide call. He told them he argued with his wife after she arrived home from work, hit her with a steel pipe and strangled her with an extension cord. He then strangled the 4-year-old with his hands and the other two girls with an extension cord. He placed the children on a bed together.
Rios' death came a year and eight days after he was sentenced to four life sentences for the murders of his family and two counts of moving a body from a death scene. He earlier received a life sentence for the murder, rape and molestation of Alejandra.
Casas-Rios' mother and other family members attended his sentencing hearing and said they had forgiven him and did not want to see him die. Members of Alejandra's family also opposed the death penalty because their Roman Catholic faith teaches against it.
Rev. Paul R. Bueter, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Warsaw, counseled Rios in jail. He said he received a recent letter from Rios in which the inmate said he enjoyed playing billiards with other prisoners and reading religious pamphlets the priest had sent him.
Bueter speculated that Rios had grown depressed again, as he had been at the time he killed his family.