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A California father and son were taken into police custody this week and now face charges for a trio of unsolved killings that took place in a period between 2014 and 2018, according to authorities.
Anthony Velasquez, 31, and his father Manuel Velasquez, 51, were arrested on Thursday in connection to the three killings, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office confirmed with Oxygen.com on Friday. They were taken into custody without incident around 4:30 a.m.
A SWAT team descended on their residence to serve warrants for the men after authorities received multiple tips connecting them to the cold case murders, according to KABC. Anthony Velasquez is charged with three counts of murder in the deaths of Jesse Avalos, 34, Eduardo Robles, 38, and Amanda “Nikki” Lopez, 27, who were killed in East Los Angeles in 2014, 2015 and 2018, respectively. Manuel Velasquez faces an accessory to murder charge after the fact in the slayings.
"It's a big milestone," Lt. Hugo Reynaga told KABC. "I don't know at this point, but we may be able to tie these two to other local murders, also cold cases."
“We know there were witnesses at every murder,” Homicide Bureau Captain Joe Mendoza said last month. “We’ve had nobody come forward that can really tell us who these suspects are. So we are trying to get them to come forward because we know those witnesses are out there. And the $80,000 reward may quite possibly help do just that.”
On Feb. 10, 2014, Avalos was gunned down near the intersection of Telegraph Road and Arizona Avenue in East Los Angeles, hours after jumpstarting an acquaintance’s vehicle. He was found shot multiple times in the driver’s side of his vehicle. The hood of his vehicle was found open. Authorities said two suspects were spotted in the vicinity.
Robles was fatally shot in his torso on July 6, 2015, after getting into a fight on the driveway of another home in East Los Angeles. Police allege his tires were punctured prior to the shooting. The suspect in the shooting was later picked up by a Hispanic male in his mid-to-late-forties driving a light green vehicle.
Almost three years later, on April 22, 2018, Lopez was shot to death as she slept in a tent located in an East Los Angeles encampment situated by a courthouse's courtyard. She’d been shot in the upper torso. CCTV footage captured the suspect being dropped off at the location in a PT cruiser and discharging a firearm into the tent’s enclosure.
Victims of the family also made a desperate plea to the public to come forward with any information in the previously unsolved case.
“I speak for my family as well as the other two families,” said Avalos’ eldest sister, Maria Orozco. “We don’t have closure, we don’t have justice and I’m sure all of these families are still suffering. Please help us, please come forward with any information you may have.”
A motive in all three of the killings is not entirely unclear, authorities said, but they did state that Anthony Velasquez had been friends with each victim and that he'd fallen out with each ahead of their murders, CBS2 reported. He is being held on a $2 million bond, according to online jail records. Manuel Velasquez is being held on a $1 million bond. It’s unclear they’ve retained legal representation and they’re expected to appear in court on Sept. 27, authorities said.
Anyone with further information about the ongoing investigation is urged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
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