Three men found dead at a Perris cemetery were killed execution-style at the location, the Riverside County Sheriff said Tuesday.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco labeled the deaths homicides at an afternoon news conference and said he did not believe the killings were related to two other recent homicides in the area.
"While we have had three homicides recently, they are not related in any way, shape or form," Bianco said. "To dispel any rumors, we do not have a serial killer on the loose in the area of Perris. They are isolated incidents with specific facts of their own, and at this time, we do not believe they are related in any way, shape or form."
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The sheriff did not provide details about how the men were killed, saying the investigation was in its early stages and that the department was still downloading surveillance video from the surrounding area.
"It's only been a day," Bianco said.
The three men were identified as residents of Perris: Jaime Covarrubias Espindola, 50; Jose Maria Aguilar-Espejel, 38; and Rodrigo Aguilar-Espejel, 28.
Asked about the spate of homicides, the sheriff said that, unfortunately, the area does have shootings regularly, but most of those shootings do not result in deaths.
The sheriff said that he is working with investigators in Mexico, as they work to find a motive for the cemetery killings, but Riverside's top lawman said he could neither confirm nor deny the rumors that the killings were connected to a cartel.
"I will tell you that it is no secret that crimes with drugs are going up," the sheriff added. "Across the state, crimes involving drugs and guns have been going up, and it's completely related to horrible laws that have been passed, the horrible propositions that were voted in, and now, we're suffering the consequences to that."