4 Men Charged With Murder in Kidnapping, Slaying of Man Found Dead Off Highway 39 in Azusa

Four men have been charged with murder a day after authorities found the body of a man off Highway 39 in Azusa, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

The charges come just hours after three men were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the killing, while the fourth suspect remains at large, authorities said.

The body of a man was found about 5:55 p.m. Wednesday in heavy brush about 30 feet down San Gabriel Canyon Road. Officials later identified the victim as 20-year-old Julian Hamori-Andrade.

The men being charged with first-degree murder in his death are Hercules Balaskas, 19; Matthew Luzon, 21; Jacob Elmendorf, 19; and Francisco Amigon, 19, according to prosecutors. They are also being charged with first-degree residential robbery and kidnapping.

All of them except Luzon were booked into the Sheriff's Department station in San Dimas shortly before the DA's office announced the charges.

Just days before the body was found, authorities were investigating "suspicious circumstances" surrounding the discovery of a "large amount of blood" in a nearby home on Goodway Drive in unincorporated Azusa.

Investigators later learned the killing happened that same day.

The three other suspects were at Luzon's home on Goodway Drive "when the victim was brutally beaten before being dragged to a pick-up truck belonging to one of the suspects," the Sheriff's Department said in a news release.

While still unconscious, the victim was then lifted into the truck bed and driven to Azusa Canyon, authorities said. The other men allegedly beat him again before throwing him "over the side of a roadside drop off," officials said.

Prosecutors later said Balaskas used a metal chair to beat him and Luzon used a rock and broken glass pipe during the kidnapping, robbery and killing.

Investigators believe Hamori-Andrade was still alive when he was taken to the roadside location and later died of his injuries.

Witnesses who saw the suspect vehicle at that same location on the night of the crime tipped authorities off to the location, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Two tenants who rented a room in the residence called officials after a fight at the home on Monday, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.

The victim did not live at the home, officials told KTLA.

No motive for the crime has been released.

Balaskas, Amigon and Elmendorf will appear in court for their arraignment on June 6. If convicted, each of the men face a possible maximum sentence of the death penalty or life in state prison without the possibility of parole.

KTLA's Jennifer Thang contributed to the story.