Bizarre Lawrence trailer park death leaves trail of blood, unanswered questions

INDIANAPOLIS -- Witnesses heard a crash; then a man covered in blood ran past them. They found him unconscious a short distance away, lying near railroad tracks. They tried to speak with him. He never responded.

The man, Carlos Efrain Marcos Lopez, 48, of Guatemala, died eight hours later at IU Health Methodist Hospital without ever regaining consciousness. Now Lawrence police are tasked with untangling the events that led to Lopez's bizarre death.

The case began behind the Pan American & Spring Valley Mobile Home Park shortly after midnight on June 4.

Lawrence police officers followed the trail of blood from where Lopez was found to the door of a mobile home – where Lopez had apparently knocked for help, but received no answer.

The trail then led to Trailer 524, where officers found a confusing scene: A large pool of blood and glass in front of a mobile home. The trailer's front window appeared to have been broken out from the inside.

Officers looked inside the hole in the trailer to see several pools of blood inside.

A woman who'd witnessed Lopez running through the trailer park told police she'd spoken with a resident of Trailer 524 – later identified as Jose Ortiz – who said he and his roommate had gotten into a fight regarding rent money.

When officers arrived at the trailer, they found Ortiz and another man, Jesus Avila, asleep inside.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed last week in Marion County, Avila had blood on his jacket and shoes, but no apparent injuries. Ortiz also had blood on his shoes, but appeared unhurt.

Through an interpreter, Ortiz and Avila told police they had been drinking in the trailer with Lopez when Lopez and Avila began to fight in the kitchen.

According to the affidavit, Ortiz told police he saw Avila "punch [Lopez] multiple times, knocking him to the floor, before he was able to intervene and stop the fight."

Ortiz told police Lopez was bleeding from the nose and face when he got up and sat in a chair in the kitchen.

According to the affidavit, Ortiz said Lopez sat in the chair for several minutes, then suddenly leapt up and dove out of the trailer's window. Ortiz said Lopez than ran away, and he and Avila never saw him again. He denied seeing any knives or other sharp objects used during the fight.

Avila told police a similar story, according to the affidavit. He said he and Lopez had been arguing when Lopez punched him in the chest. Avila said he then punched Lopez approximately four times in the face.

Like Ortiz, Avila told police Lopez then sat in the kitchen bleeding on the floor before leaping up and striking his head against the kitchen window, causing it to break. Ortiz told police Lopez then dove out of the window and ran from the trailer. He also denied using any knives or sharp objects during the fight.

Crime scene investigators found blood covering the scene, from the kitchen through the broken window and in a trail leading to Lopez's body. All of the blood was believed to belong to Lopez.

An autopsy later determined Lopez had sustained multiple fractures to his face, nose and left eye socket, along with multiple fractured ribs. When he was admitted to the ER, medical staff removed a large piece of glass from the left side of his chest which had caused severe bleeding. The autopsy determined the glass had severed Lopez's axillary artery going into his left arm. Lopez's blood alcohol content at the time of his death was found to be .343.

Last Thursday, Marion County prosecutors filed formal charges against Avila on one count of battery resulting in serious bodily injury.

Lawrence police said they currently have no evidence to dispute Ortiz and Avila's version of events – although they noted that new information could always come forth as the case proceeds in court.

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Jordan Fischer is the senior digital reporter covering crime and justice for RTV6. Contact him with news tips at jordan.fischer@wrtv.com, and follow his reporting on Facebook or Twitter at @Jordan_RTV6.

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