Police seek suspect in Indianapolis murders

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Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News 

Indianapolis - Police are calling it the worst homicide case in the city in at least two decades after seven family members were found killed in their home on the east side. Police believe the motive was robbery.

Indianapolis hasn't seen a case of this magnitude in decades - since the King Edward Bell murders of 1981. Police and neighbors were stationed outside the house at 560 N. Hamilton Avenue throughout the night searching for answers to the crime.

So far police have identified 28-year-old Desmond Turner of Indianapolis as a suspect, but police say he didn't act alone.

Three generations in one family were all gone in a flash of gunfire. Emma Valdez, her husband, three sons, a daughter and grandson all shot execution-style after a home invasion late Thursday night. The children were just 5 to 11 years old.

"The children, all three children were in bed. They were in the same bed. I don't know if they were hiding or if they were sleeping there," said Tim Foley, Indianapolis Police Department Deputy Chief.

Police say this was no random act. But early on, the possible motive was kept a secret.

Witnesses tell Eyewitness News they heard rapid fire and screams. It started when Emma Valdez's 22-year old daughter, Flora, came to pick up her five-year-old son.

Frank Dodson, a neighbor and close family friend watched from across the street

"I seen her daughter pull up and she got up and ran up to the porch, look like somebody drug her in. I couldn't really tell if it was horseplay or what at the time. Then I heard about 10 or 12 shots so I called police. But I never saw anybody run from the home or nothing like that," said Dodson.

Evan Lewis heard Flora's agonizing cries.

"Just a lot of screaming like 'No! Why! My mom!' You know just, 'Why did they do it?' You know, it's a mess, basically. Just, I mean, panic like, 'I need some help, help, help,'" said Lewis.

Unknown to the gunmen, Flora left a friend sitting inside a car outside. That friend told police she heard Flora say, "Don't do that! My child!" Flora even managed to yell a warning to her not to come inside. The witness says then a man appeared on the porch with a long gun, as shots rang out inside.

"The gun or guns used were what was commonly referred to as assault rifles. That does not necessarily mean they were automatic. It means it was a long gun of some sort. Long gun or guns or some sort. Multiple shell casings throughout the home," said Foley.

Within minutes, three or four men fled the scene. One of them, identified as 28-year-old Desmond Turner, is a well-known violent criminal to local police.

"Someone knows where this man is. Treat him as armed and dangerous and as a very desperate person," said Police Chief Michael Spears. 

Desmond Turner is described as an African-American, 5'9", 150 pounds.  Police say anyone who thinks they've seen Turner should call 911 immediately. They are also looking for an early 90s maroon pick-up in connection with the murders.

IPD is committing major resources to this case. They're also getting assistance from the U.S. Marshal's office and the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force.

They don't believe gang activity is involved.

Mayor: "Horrific"

At the scene overnight, Mayor Bart Peterson called the murders "horrific."

"This incident has shocked our police department and shocked our city. This outrageous and unspeakable act of violence is not the norm in our city. We do not have these kinds of crimes and as such we as a police department have taken very aggressive and very substantive measures to make certain that we have pursued this case as aggressively as possible and do everything within our power to bring the person to justice," said IPD Chief Spears.

The victims are:

Emma Valdez, 46
Alberto Covarrubias, 56
Flora Albarran, 22
Luis Albarran, 5
Magno Albarran, 29
Alberto Covarrubias, 11
David Covarrubias, 8

"This is a tragedy that's occurred here in our city," said Sgt. Matthew Mount. "We're hoping if anyone has info about this family, if they had problems with other people, if they would come forward."

Desmond Turner's criminal record

The 28-year-old suspect has a criminal record that stretches over the past decade. The crimes he committed progressively get more serious over that time.

Offender data from the Indiana Department of Correction shows Desmond Turner was sentenced for resisting law enforcement and possession of cocaine in 1998. After he got out of prison on the drug charge, he was convicted in 2002 for pointing a firearm, carrying a handgun without a license and criminal wrecklessness. He was released from prison last year and is now out on parole. All of the crimes took place in Marion County.

IPS offers grief counseling

Indianapolis Public Schools will open the doors to Thomas D. Gregg School 15 Saturday to provide grief counselors to the public who may wish to share their concerns about the shooting deaths. Both Alberto Covarrubias, 11, and his brother, David Covarrubias, 8, attended School 15, 2302 E. Michigan Street. Alberto would have started sixth grade this fall; David would have been in third grade.

IPS Superintendent Eugene G. White called the loss of life tragic."The IPS family grieves the loss of our children and their families. While we are deeply saddened, we want to make available those services to help the community as we work through this difficult time," White said.

Counselors will be available at School 15 from 9 a.m. until noon Saturday.