110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Jan 20, 2014 - 7:42:00am
A grand jury has indicted Luis Toledo of Deltona in three murders, those of his wife, Yessenia Suarez, and her two children. None of the three bodies has been found.
Toledo was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Suarez, 28, after Suarez and the two children, Michael Otto, 8, and Thalia Otto, 9, disappeared from their Deltona home Oct. 22.
That first charge was lodged in October after Toledo confessed to killing Suarez with a martial-arts blow during an argument in which Suarez said she was leaving Toledo, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said. Toledo wouldn't say where her body was, the Sheriff's Office stated.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza told The Beacon Jan. 17 that the grand jury upheld the second-degree murder charge in Suarez's death, and also indicted Toledo on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the children.
Sheriff's Office investigators said in October that Toledo did not admit to killing the children. Rather, he told investigators someone else had killed them.
Although grand-jury proceedings are secret, the first-degree charge indicates the grand jury believed the killings of the children were premeditated.
Volusia County Branch Jail records show the grand jury's charges were filed Jan. 16. Toledo was also charged with tampering with evidence.
In November, Toledo pleaded not guilty to the second-degree-murder charge.
The story began when Toledo showed up at Suarez's workplace in Lake Mary Oct. 22 to confront her and a co-worker she had been seeing, Sheriff's Office spokesman Gary Davidson said. Toledo fled the scene after slapping Suarez in the face.
The next morning, Toledo pulled up at Suarez’s Covent Gardens Place home in Deltona while deputies were making a well-being check at the request of a relative of Suarez’s. Toledo was arrested then on domestic-battery charges stemming from the Lake Mary incident. He has been held in the Volusia County Branch Jail ever since.
The Sheriff’s Office said Toledo initially told investigators he and his wife had argued at home the night of the workplace confrontation, but that he left the house around 10 p.m. He told authorities he returned a short while later and slept in his car outside the house, waking up at 8 a.m. Toledo told deputies he went to work Oct. 23, but then returned to the house because he had forgotten something. That's when deputies encountered him at the home.
However, a neighbor told the Sheriff’s Office a different story. According to the deputies’ report, the neighbor said Toledo had awakened him at 6 a.m. Oct. 23 and asked for help in dropping off his wife’s car.
Toledo then drove his wife’s vehicle to Lake Mary while the neighbor followed in Toledo’s car. They then returned to Deltona, the neighbor told the Sheriff’s Office.
The bodies of Suarez and the children have not been found, despite a massive search in areas of Deltona and Enterprise by the Sheriff's Office and volunteers that began Oct. 23.
State Attorney Larizza said the case against Toledo is good, even without the bodies. Larizza said the prosecution has physical and forensics evidence, statements and witness testimony that, when put together, make a strong, “prosecutable” case.
"The grand jury agreed," Larizza said.
He wouldn't discuss the evidence, which will be made public later, during the discovery process, when it's made available to the defense, he said.
Larizza wanted indictments for the murders of the children, to avoid three separate trials, the state attorney added.
In the meantime, the search for the remains of Suarez and the children continues.
"We haven't given up on finding them," Larizza said. "My heart goes out to family. I can't imagine what they're going through."
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