Investigators identified a suspect Thursday in the deaths of three men killed earlier this week at a cemetery in Perris.
Jose Luis Torres Garcia, 33, is believed to have acted alone and was wanted on three felony homicide warrants carrying a $3 million bail, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said in a Thursday news briefing.
“We obviously are considering him armed and extremely dangerous,” Bianco said, asking anyone who comes in contact with Garcia to immediately contact law enforcement.
Garcia has two additional outstanding misdemeanor warrants from other incidents: one for alleged DUI in Riverside County, and another involving drug allegations in San Mateo County, Bianco said.
The three victims — Perris residents Jaime Covarrubias Espindola, 50; Jose Maria Aguilar-Espejel, 38; and Rodrigo Aguilar-Espejel, 28 — were found dead around 10:20 a.m. Monday near a gravesite at the Perris Valley Cemetery. Detectives have yet to release information on what sort of injuries they suffered.
Surveillance cameras throughout the city captured the victims and Garcia visiting local restaurants the night before the men turned up dead, Bianco said. Detectives still have to dig deeper to determine how the men knew each other and the nature of their relationships.
The grave the bodies were next to belonged to a man killed in Mexico last December, which Bianco said was “a message for something.” A witness at the scene Monday described seeing one of the victims hunched over, another laying down and the third wrapped in some sort of sleeping bag.
The sheriff said investigators were looking into whether Monday’s killings could be tied to cartel or gang activity, but they have yet to confirm such links or determine any sort of motive. They also have yet to look into whether the victims have any sort of criminal history.
“We’re still working on anything further than that isolated incident at the cemetery,” Bianco said.
Although Perris Mayor Michael Vargas initially released a statement tying the killings to a recent spate of shootings in the area, Bianco said the triple homicide has “absolutely nothing to do” with other cases.
Bianco also said there is no threat to the general public.
“He did not just go find someone and kill them,” the sheriff said of Garcia. “There was a reason for them to be together, so a regular resident of Perris should not have anything to be afraid of.”
Detectives are unsure where Garcia could be now. They said he’s known to stay in the Perris and Mead Valley area, but also has ties to San Jose, California, and Michoacán, Mexico.
Bianco said his department contacted authorities in Mexico to alert them Garcia may be there.
The suspect does not have an exact home address or driver’s license, and authorities said they have yet to determine his immigration status.
Officials say he goes by several aliases: Jose Torres Garcia, Jose Luis Torres, Ismael Garcia and Ismael Garcia Guiterrez.
Garcia is described as being about 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing around 180 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
He’s known to drive a dark-blue, 2001 GMC Yukon with license plate No. 4PDH363, as well as a green street bike that may be a Kawasaki, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
#Breaking Perris Triple Homicide Suspect Identified: 33-year-old, José Luis Torres Garcia.
Homicide Unit Investigators are asking for the public’s assistance in locating José Garcia. Please call 951-955-2777 or 951-776-1099, option 5. pic.twitter.com/E5Bx2K4dq8
— Riverside County Sheriff's Dept (@RSO) February 21, 2020