Source AP ©

Police need help in investigating Guatemalan immigrant's murder

Police would welcome help investigating the killing of a Guatemalan immigrant after Hispanic advocates said federal agents should be involved in the probe.

The immigrant, Rene Perez, called police in Mount Kisco shortly before his death in neighboring Bedford. The Bedford Police Department is leading the investigation of its neighboring department.

Hispanic advocates called Thursday for federal involvement, saying the immigrant community does not trust local police departments to investigate each other.

Bedford police Lt. Robert Mazurak said afterward, "If that's true, I'm sorry to hear it. But we would welcome any assistance, and we will work with any agency that can help us resolve this case."

At a news conference Thursday outside the federal courthouse in White Plains, Fernando Mateo, president of Hispanics Across America, linked Perez' death last month to the unsolved stranglings of two other Guatemalan immigrants in Mount Kisco in 2003 and 2004.

Perez, who was homeless but frequented Mount Kisco, called the police from a coin laundry there on the night of April 28, complaining of stomach pain. Three officers responded, but it was declared that Perez "did not have a police matter." An hour later, Perez was found dying on a roadside in neighboring Bedford.

The Westchester medical examiner found that Perez, 42, died of internal injuries and labeled the death a homicide.

Mount Kisco police had had hundreds of dealings with Perez, who had a long record of being drunk, getting arrested and making bogus emergency calls.

Mateo said he was "not pointing fingers."

"We believe in the police department," he said. "But the families and friends and the relatives of these three individuals do not. Therefore we need the federal government to come in and assist or possibly take over this investigation."

District Attorney Janet DiFiore said Wednesday that she had no doubts about the integrity of the investigation.

But Mateo said, "This is a bias case. There might be a serial killer. We don't know if it's law enforcement. We don't know if it's just an immigrant hater. We don't know who it is. But we're certainly not going to solve this case with just the Bedford Police Department investigating the Mount Kisco Police Department."

In Mount Kisco, meanwhile, the three village police officers being investigated were placed on desk duty, acting Chief Louis Terlizzi said.

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