Monday 28 November 2022

Massacre in Buenos Aires: First indications point to local criminals

Suspects used low-caliber weapons, believed to dominate the region and to knew the owner of the ranch.

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QCOSTARICA – The first indications about the possible suspects of perpetrating the murder of six people – four men and two women – on October 17 at a ranch in Llano Bonito de Brunca, in the canton of Buenos Aires, Puntarenas, point to the fact that they are local criminals dedicated to crimes against property.

This presumption is obtained by transcending that the perpetrators of the massacre used small-caliber weapons, are people who criminally dominate the region and that at least one person involved knew the American Stephen Paul Sandusky, owner of the land where the multiple homicides took place.

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Very closely linked to the above, on Tuesday, October 26, Walter Espinoza Espinoza, director of the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ), categorically ruled out that this event has any relationship to organized crime or drug trafficking.

That reduces the lines of investigation because, at the same time, the OIJ chief pointed out: “The thesis that the police handles is that this has to do with an assault, with an intention of abduction (…) and those who came to the site to commit the crime (they had the interest) not to leave witnesses or evidence that could link them to the criminal act”.

At the same time, Espinoza described those responsible as “a group of people who have the conditions and characteristics of being violent”, whom police must still identify through work carried out by psychologists, sociologists, investigators and criminal analysts. For this, they must be based on all the evidence obtained at the crime scene, the crime in the region and the contribution of confidential information received by the authorities.

The massacre in Buenos Aires occurred on Sunday, October 17, but it wasn’t until the next day, Monday, at 2:38 am, when in the vicinity of the main house, the bodies of Stephen Paul Sandusky, César Mauricio Quesada Cascante (44), his wife Claudia Alina Villarevia Rivera (41), their son Daniel Mauricio Quesada Villarevia, Susan Anyelic Zúñiga Rodríguez (40) and Willy Alfredo Borbón Muñoz (38), friends of the Quesada Villarevia family.

All but Sandusky were Costa Ricans.

The Quesada family and their two friends, a couple, went that Sunday morning to the Sandusky home property to help him fix a tractor, given that César Mauricio and his son Daniel had a machinery repair shop in the La Bonita de Rivas community in the Pérez Zeledón canton. The Quesada family and friends traveled 53 kilometers to reach Stephen Sandusky’s farm.

Criminal footprint

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After 15 days of the homicide, the Judicial Police has provided very little information about what happened that Sunday in the surroundings of the house. What is known is that the victims were intercepted between 8 am and 9 am. The bodies had bullet holes and two of them were semi-burned. What is not yet clear is whether the members of the Quesada Villarevia family and their friends arrived when those involved were on the farm or the assailants surprised the victims when the entire group was already there.

Regarding the number of suspects, it is believed that there are more than four, whose ages would be in a range of 24 to 38 years.

Likewise, the OIJ reported that they found ballistic elements at the site, as well as other “material evidence that can be compared” confirmed by Wálter Espinoza. Based on these findings, it was learned that those who carried out the massacre used low-caliber weapons,  22, 25 or 32 caliber, that is, they could be revolvers, pistols, carbines or rifles. Here it is important to point out that in the region it is very common for the residents to have weapons of this caliber since they are used for hunting.

In this case, it is clear that the objective of the criminals was theft, because as the OIJ said, based on the “quite a few signs” of such in the main house, as well as a broken window and several articles that, apparently, were going to be stolen because they were ready to hauled off, such as a welding machine, a motor cutter, and various agricultural equipment.

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Also, in the community, it was well known that Sandusky had his property up for sale and a rumor had been circulating that he had sold or had received a down payment and kept cash on the property, where he lived alone.

At the moment the authorities are focusing the investigation on a group of criminals who in recent months have been attributed other robberies in the region (not only Buenos Aires but Pérez Zeledón, Osa, and Corredores) and that, at least one of them was Sandusky’s acquaintance.

This is because a few years ago he had attempted to steal from the American, who identified him and even reported him to the Buenos Aires Prosecutor’s Office.

Likewise, it is presumed that they, the suspects, would be people who know the area very well, who move around on motorcycles and who use at least one all-terrain vehicle to remove the stolen items, since the roads in rural areas of Buenos Aires, most are of gravel and streams must be crossed.

There is a lot of fear in the region, a situation that has led many to describe the say: “they kill cattle, now they kill people”.

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