Suspect arrested in killing of 3 Mexican cousins in Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) — A suspect has been arrested in the killing of three cousins from Mexico whose bodies were found in a vacant lot in Phoenix last month, police said Thursday.

Phoenix police Sgt. Philip Krynsky identified the suspect as Juan Vargas, 21.

A charging document released in the case Thursday said one of the three victims had suffered blunt force trauma to the head before being shot and had a ligature on his wrist, indicating he was tied up at some point.

The cousins were from the Mexican state of Oaxaca and had relatives in Wisconsin, Phoenix TV station ABC15 reported. The Mexican Consulate in Phoenix didn’t respond immediately to a query about the case.

Vargas was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder during the commission of a crime, kidnapping, armed robbery with a deadly weapon and abandonment or concealment of a body, jail records said.

It wasn’t clear whether Vargas had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Officers arrested Vargas after they found the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe that belonged to one of the victims being driven by another man in Phoenix, the charging document said. It stated that the man driving the SUV reported he bought it for $2,500, far below market value, from two men he knew only as Jesus and Chuy.

Officers eventually connected the vehicle to Vargas. Cellphone records also traced one victim’s mobile phone being used before the killings at the address where Vargas lived east of downtown Phoenix, according to the charging document.

Police have identified the three who were killed as Herminio Perez Ramirez, 28; Isauro Martinez Dominguez, 21; and Abimael Jimenez Morenos, 16.

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