1997 murder case with headless, handless body advances in Lenawee County

ADRIAN — A murder case from 1997 where the victim’s head and hands were cut off is proceeding to Lenawee County Circuit Court.

Two Ohio brothers are accused in the murder of an unidentified man whose remains were found by a farmer Nov. 19, 1997, in a cornfield in Blissfield Township. Richardo Sepulveda, 51, of Cincinnati and Michael Sepulveda, 49, of Toledo, were bound over to circuit court Thursday after proceedings in Lenawee County District Court. They each are charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, assault with intent to maim, conspiracy to commit assault with intent to maim, tampering with evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence.

First-degree murder is punishable by life in prison without parole. The assault and tampering charges have maximum 10-year sentences.

“All crime victims deserve justice regardless of how long it takes to receive it,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a news release. The attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case. “I appreciate the hard work of the Michigan State Police, the many local and federal law enforcement agencies, and my criminal trial prosecutors for their persistence in pursuing this case.”

The Sepulvedas’ arraignments in circuit court are scheduled for Aug. 16.

Michael Sepulveda is represented by Adrian attorney Jim Daly. Richardo Sepulveda is represented by attorney William Amadeo of Ann Arbor.

More: Arrests made in 1997 cold case murder; headless, handless body was found near Blissfield

More: Police: Drug debt may be motive in 1997 murder

To date, the victim’s identity is still unknown, but he is believed to be a 32-year-old Hispanic man from the Corpus Christie, Texas, area, the news release said. The investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Larry Rothman at 313-407-9379.

The lack of the man’s head and hands made identifying the man difficult. His DNA profile has been uploaded to a national database of missing and unidentified persons, and police are using genealogy websites that use DNA to build family trees to try to identified the man.

When police examined the remains, they observed the hands appeared to have been cut from just above the wrist, the release said. Officers also observed what appeared to be saw striations on the ends of the bones.

In a district court affidavit of probable cause, police recounted tips they received over the years that led to the Sepulvedas being arrested in January. Michigan State Police and FBI investigators were told the Sepulvedas were involved in the drug trade in Toledo and had killed the man because of a drug debt Richardo owed. A woman who was Richardo’s girlfriend in the late 1990s told police she recalled the brothers taking a saw from her garage around the time of the homicide and that Richardo owned a van at that time.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: 1997 Lenawee County murder case with headless, handless body advances

Leave a Comment