In 1979, two men allegedly shot and killed a paraplegic man in his Salt Lake City home during a botched robbery. They evaded capture for nearly 40 years, at least in part because their case fell through the cracks of Utah’s justice system. Now, cops have stepped up the hunt for the pair.
Salt Lake County prosecutors announced formal murder charges in the cold case last Friday against two Dominican suspects, the Deseret News reported.
Hector “Cuchy” Brito, 60, (pictured in a 1978 mug shot) and Pascual “Pacola” Alfonseca, 60, are likely still living inside the United States under false identities, according to cold case detective Ben Pender of the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake.
At the time of the killing, cops had ample reason to believe the pair committed the crime, investigators told the Deseret News. They said that officials neglected the case, because of the way warrants and probable cause statements were handled at the time.
In the 1970s, family members sent Brito and Alfonseca, young men at the time, to Ogden, Utah from New York City in hopes of helping them escape a checkered past.
Brito had allegedly been involved in New York gangs since the age of 12, according to the Deseret News.
In January 1979, Brito and Alfonseca began discussing potential robbery targets, according to police. They settled on Jack Richardson, a 54-year-old paraplegic.
“This is a holdup!” Brito announced when they arrived at Richardson’s door. He then pulled out a handgun, which accidentally fired, according to a man who said he drove the alleged robbers to the crime scene and later became a police witness. Brito’s shot allegedly struck Richardson in the face.
The two ditched the gun, which was later recovered, and fled the state dressed as women, according to multiple police witnesses.
It only took police a matter of days to name Brito and Alfonseca as prime suspects, but by then the two were long gone. Police issued warrants for their arrest, but never located the pair.
Then in 1991, because the men still hadn’t been captured, a court recalled the warrants, according to Fox 13 in Salt Lake City. At that point, cops totally dropped the case.
Within the past four weeks, officials reopened the case and filed charges.
Salt Lake City cops are hoping that advances in forensic technology or people who may have seen the two may help investigators finally catch the pair.
Also, official charges make it possible for federal investigators to assist in the case.
“The thing that hurts me most is knowing that they could have pushed him over in his wheelchair,” Cindy Greer, Richardson’s daughter, told Fox 13. “They could have done anything but they didn’t have to shoot him.”
[Photo: Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake]