3 found dead in vehicle in Brighton Park

May 18, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The bodies were found shortly before 7 a.m. Tuesday. The car was parked in an industrial area in the Brighton Park community.

The white Toyota Avalon was parked in the 4800-block of South Whipple and was moved four hours after the bodies were discovered.

The bodies of three Hispanic men were found inside -- one in the trunk, two in the back seat. The car was parked outside AccuLabs, a supplier of specialty chemicals to the plating and metal finishing industries. One worker described the area as typically desolate early in the mornings.

The bodies were found with significant signs of trauma, but police would not say whether there were gunshot wounds. According to the deputy chief of Area 1 detectives, the license plates do not indicate that the car was stolen.

Because of all the police activity, AccuLabs had to let a shift go because their entire working area was crowded by police activity. Workers say they can't get $100,000 worth of shipments of their products out the door.

The discovery of the bodies comes less than a month after three bodies were also found bound and gagged in a car in the McKinley Park neighborhood. Both cases are being investigated.

The Medical Examiner's office said the identity of the three men will not be released until Wednesday afternoon, but the family of one of the victims identified that person as Hector Romero, a father of three who at one point worked for the anti-violence organization CeaseFire.

Romero's family was devastated after finding out he was one of the three bodies found bound and gagged in the vehicle.

Residents described the area as dangerous.

"It's really bad. Gang bangers around and kids won't come out and play because they are chasing each other, throwing gang signs," said Maria, Brighton Park resident.

Romero lived in the Humboldt Park neighborhood with his relatives, including his aunt. Wanda Romero, who says he was like her son. Overcome with grief, she was treated in the home by paramedics. More relatives in Romero's close knit family flocked to the home including a cousin who was told about his death and came home early from high school.

Romero's father, whom the family said is sick, didn't take the news well with paramedics being called to the house again.

Relatives said Romero, a 28-year-old father of three young children, is a responsible stay-at-home dad and they don't know how this could happen.

"We were at a family party in the backyard and he was okay, laughing with the kids. Next thing you know we hear this," said Jeannett Gonzalez, Romero's cousin.

Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said it's possible the crime is drug related.

"It has certain similarities to the case of last month where they were three bodies found in a car. We don't know anymore at this time," said Weis.

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