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Deported man is suspect in fatal California beatings

FILE – This undated file photo from surveillance video provided by the Los Angele Police shows a man they are seeking in connection with the attack on several of the homeless men who were brutally beaten with a baseball bat in Los Angeles early Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. Two of those men have died. Authorities on Monday, Sept. 24, a man was arrested on suspicion of bludgeoning a homeless man in Santa Monica, Calif., previously Monday. He is now being investigated in connection with at least six attacks in the two cities that have three dead. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES – A man who was deported from the United States six times, was expected in court Wednesday to face the charges after police say he killed three people injured and four in attacks focused on sleeping homeless men in California.

Researchers believe Ramon Escobar, 47, began attacking the men in random order in Sept. 8, shortly after he arrived in California from Houston, where he is considered a person of interest in the disappearance of his uncle and aunt.

Escobar, who was believed to be homeless themselves, likely targeted victims to rob, Los Angeles police Captain William Hayes told reporters Tuesday.

Detectives have seized a wooden baseball bat and bolt cutters that they believe were used to cudgel the men if she was sleeping on the beach or on the street in Los Angeles and the suburbs of Santa Monica, police said. All but one of the men was homeless.

Escobar was Monday arrested and was expected to be charged with the murder and attempt to murder as early as Wednesday, followed by his accusation.

It was not immediately known if Escobar had a lawyer who could speak for him.

Escobar was held without bail but the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement have filed a detainer him in custody if he is released, the agency said.

Escobar was first ordered removed from the country in 1988 and was deported to his native El Salvador six times between 1997 and 2011, ICE said in a statement Tuesday night.

He was released from ICE custody last year after successfully appealing his latest immigration case, ICE said. The agency does not indicate his current legal status.

However, Escobar has six misdemeanor convictions for theft and illegal French fries, ICE said.

Escobar spent five years in prison for the robbery to start in the middle of the 1990s, Hayes said. Records in Texas show Escobar has had a few arrests for auto burglary, trespassing, failure to stop, public drunkenness, and two assaults, most recently in November 2017. In that case, was described as a crime.

Texas authorities also want to talk to Escobar about the disappearances last month of the 60-year-old Dina Escobar and her brother, the 65-year-old Rogelio Escobar, Houston police said in a statement.

Dina Escobar’s burned of was found in Galveston, Texas, a few days after they went looking for her brother. She was last seen Aug. 28, two days after her brother disappeared, ” the statement said.

Dina Escobar’s daughter, Ligia Salamanca, told KTRK-TV in Houston earlier Tuesday that her cousin, Ramon Escobar, had never come across as violent and not a source of problems for the family.

“She loved him as she would a son,” Salamanca said her mother’s dedication to Ramon Escobar.

Salamanca said he was looking for work and needed a place to stay, so that he is cared for by his uncle, who went missing days later.

Investigators believe Escobar was the man who used a baseball bat to bash the heads of the three homeless men sleeping on downtown Los Angeles streets before dawn on Sept. 16, police said in a statement. Two deceased.

Escobar is regarded as the man captured on surveillance video ransacking the bags and belongings of which was the city of Los Angeles victims.

Two homeless men sleeping on the beach were clubbed in the head early on Sept. 8 and Sept. 10, leaving one in critical condition, the officials said.

Another man who apparently was sleeping on the beach was found dead under the Santa Monica Pier on Sept. 20. Steven Ray Cruze, Jr., 39, of San Gabriel, had been beaten to death.

Authorities at first described him as homeless, but family and friends said the father of two, who loved fishing on the pier, worked boats in the neighboring Marina del Rey and sometimes camped out under the pier to avoid the long trip home.

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Associated Press journalists Robert Jablon and John Antczak in Los Angeles, David Warren in Dallas and researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

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