Investigators believe suspects in Shelby County cold case responsible for more homicides

Local News

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – One year ago, Shelby County’s Cold Case Unit reopened the homicide investigation of Hernan Torres, a 25-year-old Hispanic man who was stalked and murdered. 

Torres’ body was found floating in the Cahaha River on Aug. 12, 2002.  The red Ford F-150 that he was driving went missing for several months before being recovered in Bessemer.

“Our current theory of the case is that he was targeted by a group, for want of a better word, of predators,” said Robert O’Conner, Reserve Deputy assigned to the Cold Case Unit. “They survived in Northwest Shelby and West Jefferson County between 1995 and 2005, largely by identifying individuals who displayed wealth in the form of cash and expensive toys.  We feel like this individual was identified at a public venue–was followed, abducted–possibly at gunpoint, robbed, and subsequently murdered.”

Investigators said Torres was working at a Birmingham business were his employers considered him to be responsible and reliable. He was sending money back home to his family in Mexico.  

Torres was known to attend motorcycle and car races and dance clubs.  Investigators believe it was at one of those venues that Torres was chosen by the suspects, in part, because of his distinctive truck. 

“This was not a crime of passion,” said O’Connor. “This was not a random event.  This was a calculated crime of opportunity.”

O’Connor said he believes that the suspect or suspects in this case potentially played a role in other unsolved homicides. 

“We think that they operated a business or more than one business that gave them access to the public,” he said. “Particularly the streets of Birmingham and West Jefferson County at night.  We think that helped them facilitate identifying people with distinctive automobiles and expensive motorcycles.”

They also believe that there are people who have information about this homicide or other incidents involving the same suspects. 

There are cash rewards available for information leading to an arrest. You can contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office tip line, Crime Stoppers at (205) 669-9116.  

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