- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 29, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BALTIMORE — A shirt and towel stained with what was believed to be blood were found at the home of two men accused of killing three children, according to charging documents filed late Friday.

One of the men was let in the apartment by the children, who knew him, according to documents, written in English and Spanish, filed at 9:05 p.m. Friday in the Baltimore court commissioner’s office.

And a knife believed to be the murder weapon was found near a window.

A bail review is set for Tuesday for Adan Espinoza Canela, 17, and Policarpio Espinoza, 22. They were each charged with three counts of first-degree murder. They were being held without bail at Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 28.

The men are accused of killing Ricardo Espinoza and his sister, Lucero Quezada, both 9, and their 10-year-old male cousin, Alexis Quezada. The children were found dead Thursday afternoon. One child had been decapitated; the other two were partially beheaded.

While the charging documents offered new information on how police believe the crime took place, they offered no suggestion as to a motive for the grisly killings, which left family, neighbors and even veteran law-enforcement officers shaken.

According to the charges, Mr. Espinoza, who was described as the brother of the father of two of the slain children, drove Mr. Canela, his cousin, to the apartment where the children lived. Mr. Espinoza stayed in the car as Mr. Canela went into the apartment about 4:20 p.m. Thursday, knocked on the front door, and identified himself to the children, who let him enter the apartment, according to the court papers.

Mr. Canela left the apartment through a back window about 5 p.m. and met Mr. Espinoza in a nearby parking lot. Mr. Espinoza asked Mr. Canela what he was doing for so long; Mr. Canela said he was playing with the children, the charging documents said.

The mother of at least one of the children got home from work shortly after 5 p.m., and found their bodies in different bedrooms of the first-floor apartment, police said.

Mr. Canela and Mr. Espinoza were seen with their relatives after the killings were discovered, the charging documents said. They were identified by neighbors as acting suspiciously around the apartment complex before the killings. The two were questioned separately late Thursday and early Friday by Spanish-speaking police officers after waiving their right to have an attorney present, the documents said.

Police searched their home in Baltimore County on Friday and found the shirt and towel, the documents said.

The suspects were “emotionless” as they talked with detectives, Deputy Police Commissioner Kenneth Blackwell said.

A relative said the family was originally from Veracruz, Mexico. They moved from New York to Baltimore about three years ago. The relative said the family owns a food business.

The government of Mexico said Friday it was helping the children’s family, offering legal and financial aid to the stricken parents.

The Foreign Relations Department said the parents of the children — Ricardo Espinoza, Mimi Quezada and Maria Andrea Espejo — were illegal Mexican immigrants, whose children had been born in Mexico City and the state of Veracruz. It was not known which children were born where or who the parents of each child were.

It said the city of Baltimore and the Mexican Embassy in Washington “are providing the necessary assistance to the parents of the slain minors [housing, food and economic aid] and all the legal advice they require.”

An informal vigil was conducted outside the apartment complex Friday evening. Dozens of people gathered to hold hands in front of the children’s home to pray and leave stuffed animals and flowers.

“The community is really hurt,” said family friend Luis Contreras.

The families are making arrangements to ship the children’s bodies back to their native Veracruz for a funeral, the Baltimore Sun reported.

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