ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Police were investigating whether three teenagers suspected of beating two homeless men to death with cinderblocks, bricks and a metal fence pole were responsible for dozens of other attacks on transients in recent months.
Alex Rios, 18, and two boys, ages 16 and 15, are being held in Bernalillo County detention facilities a day after allegedly killing the two sleeping men in an open field in an attack so violent it left the victims unrecognizable, police spokesman Simon Drobik said. A third man said he was able to escape.
The teens said they wanted to look for someone to beat up and possibly rob. One teen told authorities the other was "very angry" over a breakup with his longtime girlfriend. A criminal complaint said one of the teens told police that they had attacked more than 50 people in recent months.
"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 the 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, and police found the trio of suspects there. The homeowner said the 15 and 16-year-old were his sons and Rios was a friend who had spent the night.
The complaint says Rios has been charged with two counts each of murder, among other charges. The younger boys will likely be charged with murder as adults, Drobik said. The Associated Press is withholding their names because of their age.
Rios told investigators he acted as a lookout while the other boys attacked both men with bricks, sticks and a metal fence pole. The younger suspects, however, told police that Rios also took part in the attacks.
Both describe how all three covered their faces with black T-shirts before walking over to the victims. According to the 15-year-old, they all took turns picking up cinderblocks and repeatedly smashing them into the men's faces.
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.
Investigators have not yet confirmed the identities of the two victims. Their transient background and the severity of their injuries have made identifying them 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.