- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2008

PHOENIX | The suspect in a brutal and apparently random attack of two boys at a park will face murder charges after both children died Friday, police said.

Edwin Pellecier, 10, and Jesse Ramirez, 7, suffered severe head injuries when they were repeatedly bludgeoned Tuesday afternoon, Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said. Jesse died early Friday, and Edwin, his cousin, was pronounced dead hours later.

Police arrested Joe Sauceda Gallegos, 36, within hours of the attack on Tuesday.

A first-degree-murder charge was added after Jesse’s death, and a second was planned after Edwin died, Sgt. Thompson said. He was charged earlier with two counts of child abuse and dangerous crimes against children. Bail was set at $1 million.

Doctors think the boys were bludgeoned repeatedly with a baseball bat or similar object. Police say they found a bat in Mr. Gallegos’ home along with clothing that appeared to be bloodstained.

“It was just a brutal, vicious attack that didn’t need to happen,” Sgt. Thompson said.

Court records did not list an attorney for Mr. Gallegos.

Sgt. Thompson said Mr. Gallegos, who lived nearby, followed the boys to the small community park and attacked them, then walked back to his home. Police don’t know a motive.

Police said video from a surveillance camera mounted in front of a house near the park showed the boys walking toward the park, followed a minute later by a man carrying an object that looked like a bat. A neighborhood resident said the man looked like Mr. Gallegos.

An uncle of Mr. Gallegos, Joe Sauceda, told police he believed his nephew had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic.

The uncle also said Mr. Gallegos had told authorities about six months ago that he killed his sons in his attic, but police never found any such victims at the house. Mr. Gallegos’ sons live with their mother in Colorado. Their ages match the ages of the boys who were attacked.

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