RAW FOOTAGE: Death investigation east of Bonita Springs
Lee County Sheriff's Office investigates two bodies ...
LEE COUNTY — A fourth suspect in a Bonita Springs double homicide was arrested on Thursday, and detectives have identified others believed to be present at the time of the killings.
Lee detectives say Angel Salinas, 17, of the 27000 block of Baretta Drive in Bonita Springs, drove accomplices away from the rural Lee County site where both bodies were dumped in a Jeep and set on fire.
Salinas denied participating in the killings, according to his arrest report. He said he responded to a friend’s request for a ride and was kept in the dark until it was too late. Detectives say video from a gas station shows Salinas and a friend helping the other suspects.
He was arrested Thursday night at the Everglades Wonder Gardens. Salinas, who goes by the nickname “Thug,” is charged with two counts each of accessory to first-degree murder and accessory to kidnapping, as well as a single count of second-degree arson.
The bodies of Daniel Leonor, 24, and Israel Ponce, 20, were discovered inside Leonor’s burning Jeep on Aug. 1 off Harrell Avenue, a narrow dirt road in rural Lee County, just east of the Bonita Springs line.
Detectives later charged Dustin McIntyre, 21, Lisandro Resendiz, 21, and Colton Lance, 20, on homicide and kidnapping charges. They say the three men jumped Leonor and Ponce at a Bridgeport Lane home in Bonita, after the two victims arrived at the address to sell cocaine. Both victims were beaten and then suffocated to death with plastic bags, detectives say.
McIntyre was arrested in Lee County and Resendiz and Lance were recently nabbed out of state.
According to Salinas’ arrest report, the suspect told detectives he was dropped off at the Bridgeport Lane home on Aug. 1 to pick up some personal items. Upon arrival, he found McIntyre, Resendiz, a mother named Mallerie Neiiendan and her two children, and another woman, Denise Aviles, inside the house.
He said that on request from McIntyre, he borrowed a black Jeep to drive the women and children to a home in Morton Grove. Alone, Salinas then went to a CVS for a drink when McIntyre called him and asked him to pick him up at a gas station on Bonita Beach Road and I-75, Salinas said. McIntyre had said he was out of gas, Salinas told detectives.
He said he arrived at the gas station to find McIntyre and Resendiz with a red Jeep he hadn’t seen before. He followed them east on Bonita Beach Road until reaching a spot on Harrell Avenue, where both vehicles parked. Salinas then heard an explosion, he said, looked in his mirror and saw the other vehicle on fire, according to the report. He said McIntyre and Resendiz jumped in the back of Salinas’ Jeep and told him to drive. Salinas was then dropped off at the CVS.
Surveillance video from the gas station contradicts Salinas’ statement, detectives say. The video shows Salinas arriving at the gas station in a black Jeep shortly before McIntyre appears in a red Jeep. Salinas has a passenger, who pumps several gallons of gasoline into a small gas can, and McIntyre appears to pay for the fuel.
Told about the video and asked if he wanted to revise his statement, Salinas asked for a lawyer, according to the report.
Other arrests may be coming in the case. The arrest report names two other men present at the time of the killings, Angel “Camel” Heredia and Robert Downey. The Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t comment on the men, except to say the investigation is ongoing.
McIntyre and Resendiz are both documented members of a gang called Vatos Locos.
Salinas has no prior arrests and two prior court cases, both of them traffic citations.