An unlikely encounter at a Copley gas station leads to arrest in execution-style slayings of 3 men

An unlikely encounter at a Copley gas station leads to arrest in execution-style slayings of 3 men

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Copley police detectives began unraveling the execution-style slayings of three men when they pulled into a gas station and unexpectedly found the suspect there.

The unlikely encounter led to the arrest of Elias Gudino, 58, on March 10, hours after authorities found three men bound and gagged on the side of the road. They had been shot in the head.

On Monday, Copley police released the first details of what took place involving the kidnappings of four Youngstown men and Gudino’s arrest. Authorities said Inmer Reyes, 25, and Victor Varela-Rodriguez, 31, were found on the side of the road on Cordova Avenue in Akron.

A short distance away on Wright Road in Copley Township, Domingo Castillo-Reyes, 35, was found bound and gagged. Castillo-Reyes also had been shot in the head. The three were found between 8:30 and 9 a.m. March 10.

The fourth victim, who survived, told officers that he and the others had been kidnapped March 9 and held at a home in the area of Akron and Copley. The victim told police that he was with Castillo-Reyes when he was killed. He said he also had been shot, but he pretended to be dead.

His kidnappers left, police said, and the victim began walking. A caller told police at 7:05 a.m. about a man who was rain-soaked. The victim struggled to speak English, but he told officers that he had been abandoned by his friends. Police said there was no indication that the man broke any laws, so they brought him to a homeless shelter in Akron.

Nearly two hours later, officers discovered the body of Castillo-Reyes bound and gagged on Wright Road. They returned to the homeless shelter and brought the victim to the police station.

There, according to police, the man said he was with three others when they were kidnapped the day before. After speaking with officers, Copley detectives drove through the city with the victim, attempting to find the house where he had been held, police said Monday.

About 5 p.m., the officers pulled into an unidentified gas station. There, the victim recognized Gudino inside the business and “identified him as a suspect in his kidnapping,” according to a police statement Monday. Police said they found additional evidence that tied Gudino to the case.

It is unclear whether the victims knew Gudino. Police did not indicate a motive behind the kidnappings.

Gudino was charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder in Barberton Municipal Court. A clerk said Monday the case had been bound over to Summit County Common Pleas Court. It is unclear when prosecutors will seek an indictment.

Police indicated that additional charges are expected. and The Plain Dealer reached out to Gudino’s attorney, Kerry O’Brien, seeking comment.