RIVERSIDE COUNTY, California — The bodies of three men found dead near a cemetery in Southern California have been identified, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.
They were positively identified as Jaime Covarrubias Espindola, 50, Jose Maria Aguilar-Espejel, 38, and Rodrigo Aguilar-Espejel, 28, the sheriff’s department said in a tweet on Tuesday.
All three were residents of the city of Perris, Sheriff Chad Bianco said in a news conference Tuesday.
The men are all believed to have been killed at the Perris Valley Cemetery, and police are looking into reports that the deaths might be gang or cartel related, Bianco said.
“Three people killed at the same time, that was a message for something,” Bianco said. “It’s certainly not the norm.” The sheriff did not say how the men were killed, but said police are looking into why the men were there and who was with them.
The investigation is still ongoing.
Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of three unresponsive males on the ground at the cemetery Monday. When they arrived, they found the deceased men, according to an earlier news release.
The incident appears to be isolated, Bianco said.
“This is not a matter of public safety,” Bianco said. “The concern specifically over social media was that we are having a rash of homicides in Perris and that they are somehow related and I am here to tell you they are not.”
“To dispel any rumors, we do not have a serial killer on the loose,” he said.
Bianco did address a recent increase in crime in Perris.
“It’s no secret that crimes with drugs are going up. Across the state, crimes involving drugs and gangs are going up and it’s completely related to the horrible laws that are being passed and the horrible propositions that were voted in and now we’re suffering the consequences for that,” Bianco said.