WHITTIER (CBSLA.com) – A former Whittier business owner suspected of orchestrating three cold case murders is believed to have fled to Montenegro.
Sixty-four-year-old Richard Wall is suspected of ordering the killings David “DJ” Vargas in 2008, Jeffrey Tidus in 2009 and Juan Mendez in 2011. All three murders were motivated by professional and legal grievances. Wall did not commit the murders himself, but hired hitmen to carry them out, deputies said.
“He’s not charged at this point, but he’s our murder suspect in this case,” LASD Lt. Victor Lewandowski told CBS2 Monday.
Wall owned Welded Fixtures until August, when he sold it. He also sold his home last month for about $1 million. Wall is likely living in Montenegro, a country that has no extradition treaty with the United States, deputies said.
The killings are believed to be professionally motivated.
Vargas was gunned down in his Las Vegas apartment on May 20, 2008. Vargas was attempting to open an escort limousine service and owed Vargas $100,000, LASD said.
Tidus, a 53-year-old civil litigation attorney specializing in business law, was shot in the head outside his home in Rolling Hills Estates on Dec. 7, 2009. Detectives say Tidus represented a client who successfully sued Wall for $11 million.
Mendez was a one-time Welded Fixtures employee who was shot and killed in his apartment on Feb. 26, 2011. Prior to his killing, Mendez had also successfully sued Wall.
“Well, nothing prevents us from going there (to Montenegro), and that remains to be seen, whether or not that would happen” Lewandowski said.
Lewandowski says witnesses and physical evidence led investigators to Wall, but added that the case against him is still being put together. Wall has not been officially charged. It wasn’t until detectives tried to question him in June when they learned he had left the country.
The suspected hitmen who carried out the murders are also still at large. In May, a composite sketch of a black man in his 30s was released by detectives in the Tidus murder.