SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities in Spalding County said Thursday they had arrested a suspect in the case of two bodies being found earlier this week in a burned-out pickup truck.
The Spalding County Sheriff's Office said Erik Eduardo Cabrealopez had been arrested and charged with two counts of murder, felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping, concealing a death, and tampering with evidence.
They identified the victims, whose bodies were found Tuesday after the truck fire was extinguished, as 29-year-old Joshua Wyatt and 36-year-old Carlos Benford. They had both been reported missing in Henry County by their families. The family told authorities Benford was a diabetic and was "insulin-dependent." Wyatt's family said he was a young man who "continuously stayed in touch with his family."
According to the Spalding Sheriff's Office, the pair were reported missing on Sunday after they had gone to meet a man "to discuss a joint business venture and had not been seen or heard from since." Authorities said the business venture pertained to a performance venue.
After the discovery of the body was reported in the news media, the sheriff's office said tips flooded in, leading them to a house in Griffin.
"The residence had been vacated by the occupants. The furniture and other items from the house had been burned in a large pile in the back yard, and the interior of the house had been sprayed with bleach in an effort to destroy evidence," a release said.
Nonetheless, the sheriff's office said: "Their attempts to cover up their crime failed. Our Crime Scene Investigators located the actual spot in the house where the murders took place, and they were able to recover evidence. Also located in the search were items that directly linked the victims to the house.”
Crime investigators also found blood at the crime scene along with Wyatts Dodge RAM pickup truck, authorities said during the 3 p.m. press conference.
The sheriff said the GBI will confirm the method of death for the victims, but one of the victims was shot in the head from the "evidence that was recovered last night." However, they don't know Benford's method of death.
Cabrealopez was taken into custody in Fulton County, the sheriff's office said, with the help of the GBI Gang Task Force, Georgia State Patrol, GBI West Metro Narcotics Unit, and Spalding County investigators "after a short vehicle pursuit that was ended with a PIT maneuver by GSP." Authorities said Cabrealopez was deported in 2020, but they don't know why at this time.
“We are all praying for the families of these two young men whose lives were taken in such as violent and senseless way. We are going to do all we can to make sure that their killer and anyone else that we learn was involved as the investigation continues never sees the light of day as a free man again until the day they die," Spalding Sheriff Darrell Dix said in a statement.