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Long Beach gang member arrested in three cold-case murders

January 7, 2011 | 12:23 pm

A Long Beach gang member newly released from prison in New York has been arrested by Long Beach police in connection with the murders of three people in 2001 and 2002, authorities said Friday.

Juan Pablo Camacho, 33, a Mexican immigrant, was arrested Dec. 29 in Plattsburgh, N.Y., by Long Beach police investigating the three cold-case murders. He was being held in New York, awaiting deportation to Mexico after serving a prison term on weapons and illegal immigration charges.

The hunt for Camacho began Oct. 14, 2001, when Long Beach police found Richard Murillo, 30, shot to death in an alley on Rose Avenue. About 8:45 p.m. that night, Carrie Waltier, 33, was found dead in the 10000 block of Pinehurst Street in South Gate.

Long Beach and L.A. County sheriff’s homicide detectives quickly connected the cases and later learned the victims were a couple who had been together in the hours before their killings.

Detectives reconstructed the crime and determined Murillo had been shot and killed in the alley, but Waltier was abducted from Rose Avenue and shot to death in South Gate, where her body was dumped in the street.

Physical evidence indicated that their killings were likely carried out by the same person. Investigators gathered evidence, including DNA from the scene, but eventually exhausted their leads. Advances in DNA testing and more funding for DNA work allowed detectives in 2008 to submit evidence from Waltier’s murder to a private lab for testing.

The lab notified Long Beach police in October that they had obtained a positive match, which identified Camacho. As detectives sought to find Camacho, they tied him to a third killing on May 19, 2002.

In that incident, Long Beach police officers found Richard Graves, 32, shot to death in the 300 block of East Esther Street. Witnesses reported hearing gunshots moments before officers arrived.

The motives for the murders remained under investigation.

Detectives learned Camacho was in New York and secured arrest warrants to detain him upon his release from prison. He is being held in lieu of $3 million bail in Los Angeles County Jail, awaiting arraignment Jan. 12 on the three murders.

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-- Richard Winton

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