Police officials describe 47-year-old Ramon Alberto Escobar a “violent predator,” ABC7 reported, with six felony convictions for burglary and illegal re-entry.
Escobar was arrested Monday, Sept. 24, after an attack on a man sleeping on the beach in Santa Monica, and has been linked to three murders and four attempted murders in Southern California.
Los Angeles police Capt. William Hayes said Escobar “appears to have been homeless himself, and that it looks like he was attempting to gain funds or something from them,” NBC reported.
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a Sept. 25 statement that Escobar was removed from the United States six times between 1997 and 2011. After re-entering the United States illegally, he won an appeal of his immigration case in 2016 and was released from custody.
“After illegally re-entering the U.S. following his most-recent removal Alberto Escobar filed an appeal of his immigration case with the Board of Immigration Appeals in June 2016, which the courts granted in December 2016,” ICE said in a statement, according to ABC 7. “ICE released him from custody on an Order of Supervision in January 2017 pursuant to the court’s decision.”
Investigators believe Escobar used a baseball bat and bolt cutters to batter his seven victims. A bat was found in the suspect’s vehicle, and a pair of bolt cutters were recovered at the scene of an attack in Santa Monica, according to NBC.
All but one of the men was homeless. Three surviving victims remained hospitalized—two in a coma and one other on life—support, police said.
Police have also linked Escobar to the disappearance of his two relatives from the Houston area.
“Ramon Escobar, nephew of missing persons Dina and Rogelio Escobar, was arrested in Santa Monica, California, yesterday. He’s a person of interest in their disappearance in Houston. Our investigators want to speak with him,” Houston Police wrote on Twitter.
Ramon Escobar, nephew of missing persons Dina and Rogelio Escobar, was arrested in Santa Monica, California, yesterday. He's a person of interest in their disappearance in Houston. Our investigators want to speak with him. No other information at this time. pic.twitter.com/sUpD7oePUf
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) September 25, 2018
Dina Escobar’s burned van was found in Galveston, Texas, a few days after she went looking for her brother. She was last seen Aug. 28, two days after her brother vanished, the statement said.
Escobar spent five years in prison in Texas, from 1995 to 2000, on a burglary conviction, and was arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal trespass in Texas during the past two years, Hayes said.
Asked about an unconfirmed report that Escobar may have snapped after going off medication for a psychiatric condition, Hayes said, “Nobody in their right mind would do something as vicious as this, but it still doesn’t take the criminal culpability away from it.”
Escobar was being held without bail but U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials have filed a detainer seeking to take him into custody if he is released, the agency said.
Escobar is expected to be charged with murder and attempted murder.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report
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