ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three teenagers accused of fatally beating two homeless men beyond recognition with cinder blocks, bricks and a metal fence pole may have been terrorizing transients across Albuquerque for months, police said Monday.
A man who identified himself as the father of two of the boys said they were once homeless themselves and he had no idea what prompted the beatings. One of the boys, who is 15, told police they had attacked about 50 homeless people in the past few months but had never gone that far. But on Friday night, he was angry about breaking up with his girlfriend, he said.
Alex Rios, 18, the 15-year-old and a 16-year-old were ordered held on $5 million bail each during initial court appearances Monday. They face murder charges stemming from the brutal attack in an Albuquerque lot where neighbors say transients regularly camped at night.
Following their arrest, the 15-year-old told police that the trio had been targeting homeless people for the past year, according to a criminal complaint.
Prosecutors requested bail of $1 million, but Metropolitan Court Judge Linda Rogers set it higher, citing the gravity of the allegations and the suspects' potential to flee. The district attorney's office said the younger suspects were charged as serious youthful offenders, meaning they could be tried in adult court.
The two younger defendants, one wiping away tears, sat in the courtroom while Rios made his appearance by closed circuit video from the county jail.
Family and attorneys for the three declined comment after the proceeding.
According to the criminal complaint, the 15-year-old told police that the attack lasted more than an hour, and that the trio took turns picking up cinder blocks over their heads and smashing them into the faces of the men who had been sleeping in the field across from his home.
A third transient who escaped led police to the suspects, who he said were known for attacking homeless people.
The father of the two younger defendants told an Albuquerque TV station there were rumors his son was violent, but he assumed it was with other kids.
Victor Prieto told KOB-TV that he has no idea what prompted the beatings, and that he and his family had once been homeless.
"It's so hard that he could do that to someone where … I mean, like I said, we came from there," said Prieto, who said he was the father of the 15- and 16-year-old suspects. "You know what I mean? We're not there now, but that's where we. … We got out of there," Prieto said.