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Car found, buses searched after five migrant workers slain

October 7, 1997 GMT

MANGUM, N.C. (AP) _ Authorities today found the car belonging to two brothers sought in the slayings of five migrant workers and believe the men took a bus out of Charlotte.

``If they haven’t, they’ve done a pretty good job of fooling us,″ Maj. Sam Jarrell of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department said. Two buses were searched and authorities planned to search others.

Jose Luis Cruz Osorio, 28, and Alonso Cruz Osorio, 18, have been charged with five counts of murder and five counts of robbery for the shootings Sunday night in this tobacco and cotton-farming area 50 miles east of Charlotte. A sixth man was wounded and survived. The victims were housemates of the two men.


A taxi driver who saw a news report about the slayings contacted police late Monday, saying he had taken two men to the bus station in Charlotte earlier in the day and saw them go up to the ticket window.

Officers then tracked down the Isuzu car driven from the scene of the shooting, finding it parked outside a Charlotte convenience store just after 1 a.m. today, Jarrell said. It was being searched for blood and other evidence.

Greyhound buses traveling to Atlanta and Montgomery, Ala., were intercepted Monday, but the brothers were not found. More intercepts were planned today, especially in Western states, Jarrell said. The men are believed to have moved here last spring from Austin, Texas.

Kitty Hamilton, who lives across the road from the home where the slayings happened, said the bloodied survivor, Jorge Benitez, came banging on her door, and her family was frightened at first.

``We didn’t realize he was as scared as he was,″ Mrs. Hamilton said. ``It was more of a scream of terror. I thought he was going to bust the door down. It was out in the country and there were no lights.″

The Hamiltons called 911 but stayed out of sight, peering through windows.

Across the street, dozens of shells were scattered on the blood-smeared hardwood floors of the red brick house. Investigators identified the weapons as a Chinese-made SKS assault rifle and a .22-caliber weapon.

``It appeared that after they had shot everybody, they went around and shot each one of them in the head and robbed them and left,″ Sheriff Dale Furr said.

Each of the eight men had been paid $200 Friday, a neighbor said. They had spent the day harvesting pumpkins nearby before returning to their sparsely furnished home.

Another neighbor, Kim Chandler, said the men were polite and respectful. One man she knew only as Jose used her telephone to call his mother and family in Mexico City, where he sent much of his pay.

``All of those guys were working together yesterday just fine,″ Mrs. Chandler said.

Benitez was in fair condition after surgery at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

The dead men were identified as Jose Benitez, Laurentino Diaz Bivar, Magbaleno Diaz Bivar, Jose Sanchez and Jorge Valasco, The Charlotte Observer reported. The Mexican consulate in Charlotte was helping locate the victims’ families in Mexico.

``Five people were dead and you have moved out in the country to get away from it,″ Mrs. Hamilton said. ``I think I want to move to the city where it’s safe.″