GRIFFIN - A Griffin man has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder in the deaths of two Henry County men whose bodies were found in a burning truck in Spalding County on April 13.
Erik Eduardo Cabrea-Lopez was arrested Thursday at around 12:30 p.m. after a chase in Fulton County. He has been charged with two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of malice murder, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of concealing a death, and two counts of tampering with evidence. He was booked into the Spalding County jail.
According to FOX 5 Atlanta News, emergency crews were called to a turnoff into a wooded area just a few dozen yards off Jackson Road in between Wallace and Bailey Jester Roads around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a brush fire, according to Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix. Neighbors had spotted smoke in the area and called 911. Firefighters arrived to find an extended cab pickup truck on fire.
"They started to put the fire out and they noticed two bodies in the bed of the pickup truck," Dix said, adding that his detectives were treating it as a homicide investigation. The bodies were transported to the GBI Crime Lab for autopsy and identification.
"It was determined the fire was intentionally set," Dix said during a press conference Thursday. "The fire completely engulfed the vehicle. It completely burned it. It was so hot that it took a couple of hours for it to cool down to the point where we could go in and start processing."
According to Sheriff Dix, the fire was so hot that it destroyed the vehicle's VIN plates and the truck was tagless.
During the investigation, Henry County law enforcement notified the deputies that two people had been reported missing a few days earlier by the families. Officials said 29-year-old Joshua Wyatt and 36-year-old Carlos Benford said they were going to meet a man to discuss a joint business venture and hadn't been seen since.
"During the search of the vehicle," Dix said, "we were able to locate some items, some identifying marks, that we were able to confirm the identities."
Through local tips and leads, officials said they were eventually led Wednesday night to a home on the 300 block of Dutchman Road in Griffin. According to investigators, the furniture of the home had been burned in a large pile in the back yard, and the home's interior had been sprayed with bleach.
"Our crime scene investigators located in a back room of the house, an area that had some bags of cement poured on top of it and loose on the ground," Dix said. "And as they started going through that, they actually started finding blood. We were able to figure out that that was actually the crime scene where these two young men were murdered, had their lives taken away from them.
"Their attempts to cover up their crime failed. Our crime scene investigators located the actual spot in the house where the murders took place, and they were able to recover evidence," Dix said. "Also located in the search were items that directly linked the victims to the house."
The autopsy reports on the two victims have not been released. The sheriff believes at least one of the young men suffered a gunshot wound.
Thursday, Spalding County deputies obtained arrest warrants for Cabrea-Lopez, charging him with crimes including felony murder. Lopez was arrested Thursday at around 12:30 p.m. after a chase in Fulton County.
"We are all praying for the families of these two young men whose lives were taken in such a violent and senseless way," Dix said. "We are going to do all we can to make sure that their killer and anyone else that we learn was involved as the investigation continues never sees the light of day as a free man again until the day they die," Dix said.