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Queens Chronicle

Howard Beach brush fire murder suspect arrested

Suspect arrested, but police search for others as investigation continues

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Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:15 am, Thu Mar 21, 2013.

One suspect in the murders of two people whose bodies were dumped in a Howard Beach park has been arrested as the investigation into what led to their deaths is continuing in another borough where police say the killings took place.

The bodies of 22-year-old Rudy Superville, of Brownsville, Brooklyn and 25-year-old Gary Lopez, of Bushwick, Brooklyn were found bound, gagged and facedown in a grassy section of Spring Creek Park near 78th Street and 159th Avenue in Howard Beach, only steps from the Belt Parkway, around 6 a.m. Wednesday, March 6, after firefighters and emergency crews responded to a fire in the park 90 minutes earlier. The victims were both shot and stabbed. The bodies had been placed in some kind of plastic wrapping or bags, but some of the plastic had melted due to the heat of the fire.

A suspect, Rogelio Rodriguez, 34, of Bushwick was arrested Tuesday and indicted Wednesday on second-degree murder, manslaughter, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence. He faces 25 years to life in prison if he is convicted.

According to the charges from Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Rodriguez allegedly beat and pistol-whipped the victims after they had already been shot, allegedly by someone else, in his apartment in Bushwick the day before the bodies were found.

Police believe Superville and Lopez may have been in the suspect’s apartment looking for drugs when they were killed there. Both had served time in prison for robbery.

Rodriguez is also accused of dumping what police believe is the gun or guns used in the murders, as well as several other weapons, into Newtown Creek in Maspeth the day after the bodies were dumped in Howard Beach.

“The defendant is accused of participating in the brutal murder of two men whose bodies were dumped and intentionally set on fire in an attempt to cover up the alleged crime,” Brown said in a statement. “This case will be pursued to ensure that justice is served.”

Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, said at last week’s Community Board 10 meeting that police were certain the murders took place in Brooklyn and the Howard Beach site was used just to dump the bodies. The fire was believed to have been started intentionally by whoever left the corpses.

“They had lit the fire to try to cover up their crimes,” Pascale added.

In the meantime, investigators in both boroughs are looking for at least three more suspects, the DA’s office said.

They have at least one major lead.

Police released a video last week of what they believe are cars that may have fled the scene or at least were in the area when the bodies were dumped. The video was taken from security camera footage from St. Helen School. It shows three vehicles — a light-colored four-door sedan; a dark four-door sedan; and a dark two-tone custom van — heading east on 157th Avenue at 83rd Street past St. Helen Church at 4:12 a.m. on March 6, five blocks from where the fire was set and the bodies were found. Officials responded to the call of the fire 13 minutes later. Police say the cars and van may have been heading away from the scene of the fire and could have been used to transport the bodies, or their occupants may have seen something in the area.

The NYPD press office stressed that the drivers of the vehicles are not considered suspects right now, but are wanted for questioning.

Spring Creek Park is notorious for being a location where murderers leave bodies, hundreds of which have been found in the rural marshy area on the border of Queens and Brooklyn in the past half century. In February, 2006, the body of graduate student Imette St. Guillen, who disappeared from a nightclub in Manhattan, was found in a section of the park across the creek from Howard Beach in Brooklyn. Many of the other bodies dumped there are believed to have been victims of organized crime as well.

Anyone with more information on the Superville-Lopez killings is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).The public can also submit tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.

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