The attackers who beat six people to death with baseball bats inside a Deltona home in August also wanted to kill another person who sometimes visited the house, newly released police investigative reports show.
One of the four men now awaiting trial in the massacre called a friend around the same time as the killings and asked her "if she wanted to go with them to take care of" Abigael "Abby" Vazquez, according to the reports.
Reached by telephone Wednesday, Vazquez, 19, said he did not know that he was targeted that night and would not comment further. However, Vazquez has told the Orlando Sentinel that his family recently received a phone call from the State Attorney's Office warning that his life and that of his twin brother may still be in danger from associates of the suspects.
"I'm not afraid; I have Jesus Christ on my side," Vazquez said.
The State Attorney's Office would not confirm whether such a call was made.
"That deals with people's safety, and I am not going to comment about it," said Assistant State Attorney Raúl Zambrano, a prosecutor in the case against Troy Victorino, 27, and 18-year-olds Michael Salas, Jerone Hunter and Robert Cannon.
The Volusia County Sheriff's Office would not comment on whether it has been asked to provide security for the family.
Gladys Viker-Oliver, an investigator for the Vazquez family's lawyer, said Zambrano made the phone call suggesting to Vazquez's mother that the family get out of town. Viker-Oliver said that in a subsequent discussion with her, Zambrano acknowledged calling the family but said he didn't phrase the warning that way.
Vazquez was a friend of the victims and also had previously been a friend of accused ringleader Victorino until the two had a falling out. About two weeks before the killings, Victorino attacked him, leaving his face bloodied and bruised, Vazquez told Volusia County deputies. Victorino accused of him of telling Victorino's girlfriend he was seeing other girls, Vazquez told the deputies.
The night of the killings, Vazquez was so concerned about his safety that he and another man carried baseball bats with them for protection because "they were afraid of Troy Victorino," the reports released this week show. The two were stopped by police while walking near Vazquez's home just hours before the massacre.
Investigators have said the home invasion at Telford Lane began sometime after 1 a.m. Aug. 6. The victims' bodies were discovered about 6:30 a.m. The phone call from suspect Hunter indicating Vazquez was a target was made about 1:30 a.m., the reports show.
The four suspects have been charged with a slew of felonies, including first-degree murder and abuse of a dead human body. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Also released in the documents were more chilling details of the slayings. The reports show that Hunter told a friend that Victorino "was holding a gun to his head and that if he didn't kill these people Troy was going to kill him."
According to the reports, Victorino met Cannon and Salas for the first time about four days before the killings.
Autopsy reports released also show that all six victims tested positive for marijuana. Francisco "Flaco" Ayo Roman also tested positive for cocaine, the reports show. Investigators do not think the killings were drug related.
Sheriff's investigators said the main target of the attack was 22-year-old Erin Belanger, who reported to police that Victorino and some of his friends had been illegally squatting in her grandmother's vacant house. Victorino thought Belanger had an Xbox video-game system and other belongings of his that had been left inside the house, investigators said.
A week before the killings during an altercation at the home Belanger shared with her boyfriend and another couple, a girl who was among a group of people harassing Belanger and her friends yelled "Troy, get Abby," the reports show.
Vazquez was visiting the Telford Lane home that night and later told the Orlando Sentinel that he warned deputies that Victorino, a felon with a long history of extreme violence who was on probation at the time, was among the group threatening Belanger, prompting her to make two desperate calls to 911. The Sheriff's Office has said deputies did not learn of Victorino's possible involvement in the incidents until after the killings.
Despite his connections to the case, Vazquez has not been listed as a potential witness, according to court records.
The only time investigators have contacted the family, Vazquez said, was on Nov. 5 when a deputy stopped at his house after seeing his brother and a woman argue in the family's front yard. According to police reports, a melee erupted that ended with the brothers and their parents arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges.
Sheriff's Office spokesman Gary Davidson described the incident as "regrettable" but said it could have been avoided if the family had answered the deputies' questions.
Alicia A. Caldwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 386-851-7924.