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WWW CFIR Dallas

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Daily Local News- Cross Border Murder and Family Feuds

Daily Local News

As it turned out, Benito Vargas most likely knew who shot him with a crossbow. There was one man out there with a motive.

He wouldn’t say for surewho that person was to West Chester police, and now local authorities will never hear it from his mouth. Vargas was killed.

He was shot again. It was probably by the same man. It was just in a different country, done with a different weapon. Only, the second time, his assailant didn’t care about witnesses and he made sure the shots were fatal. After all, he was out for revenge.

"I believe he was killed in retaliation," said West Chester Detective Sgt. Thomas Yarnall.

Representatives from the U.S. Embassy recently confirmed Vargas’ death to local police.

Rodolfo Axalco Huerta was accused of shooting Vargas three times -- in his head, his right arm and his abdomen -- in Vargas’ home in Izucar de Matmoros in Puebla, Mexico. The slaying occurred in front of Vargas’ wife and sister.

"He claimed he did it because Benito Vargas killed his father seven years ago," Yarnall said Mexican authorities reported. "Which fits the same story, he (Vargas) gave to us."

Vargas, 48, was hit by an arrow fired from a passing car in the borough in September. Such a strange act, police said at the time, could not have been completely random.

With that hunch, detectives attempted to pry some additional information from Vargas. Soon after the shooting, he admitted that he had not been forthcoming with all of the information he had.

When interviewed at the hospital the night of the shooting, Vargas told police that he had "no idea" who could have shot him.

About a month later, police interviewed him again. They took him to the street corner where the arrow-shooting occurred -- a different location than he originally reported -- and described where the SUV carrying four people drove by when he was shot.

The shooting was done at such close range, police believed that Vargas saw the person who shot him. They pried some more.

Finally, just before leaving the country to return home to his family in Mexico, he gave police some information that showed a motive for the shooting.

"‘I was in prison in Mexico. I was accused of killing a man and was put in jail. But, I got a lawyer and got released. They let me go,’" Yarnall said he was told by Vargas in October.

The son of the man that Vargas was accused of killing was the man that Vargas thought had shot him with the metallic, red, hunting arrow at the corner of Church and Bernard streets, only a half-block away from his home, police said.

"‘Even though I didn’t kill him, the family still thinks I did,’" Vargas reportedly told Yarnall.

He gave a name but would never positively identify Huerta.

"He was being vague, almost like he was holding back more information," Yarnall said. "And I would pry."

But, before police could get any more information from Vargas, he was gone.

"He said he was going back to Mexico to recuperate from his injuries. He had his wife there. He said he’d be coming back in March," Yarnall said. "He assured me he’d be back."

But, through the winter, rumors surfaced that Vargas was killed. It took until last month for local police to receive the confirmation from Mexico that Vargas was killed on Dec. 22.

"That explains why he didn’t come back in March," Yarnall said. Authorities also gave the details of his killing last month, included naming Huerta as the alleged murderer.

Though, short of a confession by Huerta of his involvement in the arrow shooting, police won’t know for sure that he was in West Chester committing that crime in September. There are no records of Huerta’s visits to the states through U.S. Customs or the Immigration Naturalization Service.

"He’s probably an illegal, he could have just crossed the border," Yarnall said. Vargas was an illegal alien as well.

West Chester police said that they would not likely pursue the Chester County charges, even though they believe they know who shot the arrow.

"It’s the same guy. It’s our guy and the story fits," Yarnall said. "All of the pieces fit together in that respect."

With that information, he said, borough residents should be assured that the arrow shooting was not a random act and should not fear for their safety in that regard.

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