Two DuPage County teens face murder charges for what authorities described as a “brutal and heinous” attack in which they strangled their 18-year-old victim with a belt, stabbed him 16 times, lit him on fire and ran over him with a Jeep SUV, then left him to die in a fire pit in a West Chicago field.
State’s Attorney Robert Berlin called the allegations against 18-year-old Francisco Alvarado of West Chicago and 16-year-old Tia Brewer of an unincorporated area near Wheaton “evidence of an unconscionable degree of depravity.” Both are charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and concealment of a homicidal death, and are held without bail. Brewer is charged as an adult.
A third person, Jesus Jurado Correa, 18, of West Chicago, was charged with concealment of a homicidal death.
If convicted, Alvarado and Brewer could face life in prison without parole.
Their victim, Luis Guerrero, was a recent graduate of West Chicago High School who held a job and lived at home with his parents. Authorities called his death painful and “beyond imagination.”
The motivation behind the attack depends on which suspect is telling the story, but prosecutors say Alvarado and Brewer met Guerrero near the downtown West Chicago Public Library Monday night. Prosecutors said they were walking with Guerrero when they attacked, strangling him and stabbing him multiple times before throwing his bloodied body into a Jeep Cherokee owned by Alvarado’s father.
Authorities say the pair, who were linked romantically, drove the wounded man to the field along Joliet Street — across the street from Alvarado’s house — where they were joined by Correa, who brought them a water bottle filled with gasoline that they used to start the victim on fire. Correa allegedly told police he “wanted nothing to do with” what Alvarado and Brewer were doing, so he left, seeing flames ignite in his rearview mirror as he drove away.
Brewer told police they put Guerrero in a fire pit and started him on fire, but he got up and started running. The suspects ran him over with the Jeep, reignited him, put him back in the pit to die and put an overturned picnic table over him.
Brewer told police the attack was a case of retribution because Guerrero had sexually assaulted her. Berlin said Guerrero and Brewer once were in a dating relationship, but investigators did not know when or for how long. Investigators found no record of Brewer reporting a sexual assault.
Alvarado, meanwhile, told police he was meeting with Guerrero to buy a phone when Guerrero opened a knife, the men began fighting and Alvarado stabbed Guerrero.
The DuPage medical examiner said Guerrero died of blunt- and sharp-force trauma. He was stabbed three times on the left side of his neck, nine times on the right side of his neck and four times in the back. Guerrero also had a broken pelvis, arm and shoulder.
Guerrero’s body was found still smoldering Tuesday by West Chicago firefighters training nearby.
Authorities said Alvarado lived across the street from the field where Guerrero’s body was found. Alvarado’s father and mother spoke to investigators, and the father showed them his Jeep, which had blood on the undercarriage and interior, and damage to the bumper.
Alvarado’s father told officers his son had been with Correa. As police caught up with Correa at his residence, he was texting Alvarado and preparing to drive Alvarado’s wallet — containing more than $1,000 — to him at the Chicago motel where he and Brewer were hiding, reports said. Correa was paid $200 for helping Alvarado and Brewer burn the body and prepare for their escape, according to authorities.
Instead, he gave the wallet to police, who met Alvarado and Brewer in a downtown Chicago motel where authorities said they were preparing to flee.
Police said they found the victim’s belongings in their hotel room, including a bloody backpack containing a bloody knife and screwdriver.
They also found bags of clothes for the defendants and a cooler full of food for their trip, reports said.
Alvarado and Brewer next are scheduled to appear in court Sept. 13 before Judge George Bakalis. Correa’s next court appearance is scheduled for the same day in front of the same judge.
Alvarado and Correa are being held in the DuPage County jail. Brewer will be held in the youth home until she turns 18, but will be tried as an adult.
West Chicago police Chief Michael Uplegger said “the best in DuPage” law enforcement worked together to bring four people into custody within 12 hours of firefighters finding Guerrero’s body during a training exercise on a site slated for development. Berlin said the investigation did not lead to charges against the fourth person, but the probe is ongoing.
“The facts alleged in this care are brutal and heinous, and evidence of an unconscionable degree of depravity,” he said.
West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda said his community is “deeply grieved by the news of this heinous crime committed in our community. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim … We trust those responsible for this horrific disregard for the life of the victim will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and, while small comfort to those who have lost their loved one, justice will be served.”