A Texas man was found guilty of slaughtering his wife’s sister and father to lure her to their funeral services – where he then murdered her, too. Now, 41-year-old Samuel Velasco faces life in prison for the heinous crime.
Velasco and his wife, Ruth Sagredo, lived in El Paso, Texas, which sits on the U.S.-Mexico border opposite the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez. According to federal prosecutors, Velasco set his sinister plot into motion back in 2008 when he hired a hitman to kill his father-in-law, who lived in Ciudad Juarez, hoping that Sagredo would attend his funeral.
Sagredo did indeed cross the border to go to her father’s funeral, but the gunman that Velasco hired was unable to carry out the murder because of a heavy police presence in and around the funeral home.
Velasco then set his sights on Sagredo’s sister, who was shot outside of a hotel that her family owned just a month after her father died. Once again, Sagredo took the bait and crossed the border back into Ciudad Juarez to attend her sister’s funeral.
As the funeral procession made its way through the city, a slew of masked gunmen opened fire on the vehicle that Sagredo was riding in, killing her along with her friend.
Authorities claim that Velasco ordered the three murders to cover up his involvement in a 2005 sexual assault case. Velasco had been charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child, and Sagredo was considered such a key witness that the prosecution’s case against Velasco would fall apart without her testimony.
If convicted, Velasco could have faced up to 99 years in prison – a damning sentence that seems to have compelled him to murder to avoid it.
Edgardo Avalos, Sagredo’s ex-husband and a relative of the abuse victim, claims that Velasco’s lawyer wanted to make a trade on Velasco’s behalf in order to get the case dropped. Velasco allegedly offered Avalos the full sum of Sagredo’s life insurance payout as well as sole guardianship of Sagredo’s children in exchange for making the allegations disappear.
Avalos agreed to the deal, noting that the case had already dragged on long enough and expressing his wishes to let the victim heal without having to relive the abuse in court. He also claimed that he was afraid for the safety of his family after witnessing the grisly fate of Sagredo, her father, and her sister.
Velasco allegedly came up with the idea for the slayings after meeting with his sister, Dalia Valencia, and his brother, Emmanuel Velasco. Prosecutors claim that the three siblings were in charge of a dangerous drug trafficking group that authorities have referred to as the “Velasco Criminal Enterprise,” which used their network of underground connections to smuggle Mexican narcotics into the United States.
The siblings have been implicated in a string of kidnapping and extortion cases that took place both in the United States and Mexico spanning from 2009 to 2013. Both Valencia and Emmanuel Velasco were charged with three counts each of conspiracy to kill in a foreign country and conspiracy to cause travel in foreign commerce in the commission of murder for hire.
Court records show that Emmanuel Velasco pleaded guilty to lesser charges, but have not yet revealed if Valencia pleaded guilty to any charges. Both will be sentenced in December.
Velasco’s other sister, Monica Velasco, is currently at large after evading an arrest in connection with the three slayings. The U.S. Marshals Service has issued a warrant for the former elementary school teacher.
Velasco will be sentenced in January for the murders, and his lawyer has already insisted that he will appeal the case, citing a lack of evidence on the government’s part.