Two homeless men sleeping in a field were brutally bashed in the head with bricks and cinderblocks and were murdered Friday night by three Albuquerque teens while they laughed at the men. A third man, Jerome Eskeets, also homeless, managed to escape to tell the story. The three teens are currently being held in a Bernalillo County, New Mexico detention facility.
Local Albuquerque police believe that the teens may be responsible for as many as 50 attacks on homeless people in the area in the last year. A police spokesman, Simon Drobnik, said that the two victims were attacked so viciously that they are currently beyond recognition. He said that the homicide detectives on the scene were physically sick when they looked at the bodies.
Drobnik mentioned candidly that he was sick himself after reading the complaint and added the police have an obligation to try to find the other homeless people who have been attacked within the last year. Homeless people do not want to bring attention to themselves, preferring not to talk about any violence against them, he commented. Simon Drobnik was so astounded that he asked a Los Angeles Times reporter a few questions. He wondered who failed the kids and how it could come to this point. It was so violent, he said.
The oldest of the three teens, 18-year-old Alex Rios, will be charged with two counts of murder along with other charges. The other two, both juveniles, 15-year-old Gilbert Tafoya and 16-year-old Nathaniel Carrillo, will be charged as adults, facing similar charges. Judge Linda Rogers has set bail at $5 million each.
While talking to the police, all three teens said they were just looking for someone to beat up and perhaps rob on Friday night. One of the teens said that he was angry because he had recently broken up with his girlfriend. A second teen told the police that he did not participate in the crime; he was just the look-out man. One of the teens admitted that all three of them took turns bashing the men’s faces in with cinderblocks and that the attack lasted over an hour.
Jerome Eskeets, the third victim in the crime, was able to escape. He was hospitalized and later released. Eskeets, also homeless, told police that the three local Albuquerque teens laughed at them as they bashed them with bricks and cinderblocks. He recognized one of the teens, even though they tried to disguise themselves by placing their black T-shirts over their faces.
The police found the two bodies of the teenagers’ victims lying on bloodied mattresses in a field around 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. Eskeet’s description of the teen he recognized and the house where he might live helped the police to locate all three teens in a house nearby.
Michael Stoops, a National Coalition for the Homeless community organizer, said that since 1999, there have been 1437 attacks against the homeless. 375 died as a result of those attacks. There were 70 attacks against the homeless in 2012 and 109 in 2013. 36 homeless people died as a result of those attacks.
Stoops said that 33 homeless people were attacked in California in recent years. New Mexico reported none in 2013. He cautioned that the numbers are probably not accurate because homeless people are reluctant to go to the police even if they’ve been violated.
One of the teens admitted to the crime in graphic detail, telling the police that they left a party specifically looking to beat up somebody. Then he went on to describe the crime. He said that two of them repeatedly bashed two of the men with bricks, cinderblocks and wooden sticks, punching them with their hands and kicking them with their feet. He did not, however, say anything about himself nor the other two teens laughing during the act. He said the attack lasted 20 minutes and then they all went to his house and went to sleep. He also mentioned that he looked in the mirror before he went to sleep and thought he saw the devil looking back at him.
By Dennis De Rose