Federal agents arrested three men and are seeking a female accomplice for the ransom kidnapping and killing of the son of a Troup, Texas, injection molding company owner. Kyle McElroy, 18, the son of McElroy Plastics owner Kevin McElroy, was found dead March 11 behind a house in rural Cherokee County, Texas, according to an FBI statement. That was about 36 hours after Kyle McElroy left his job as a supervisor at the family's factory, at about midnight March 9.
The three men have been charged with capital murder and will be tried in Cherokee County, where the crime took place, according to Sheriff James Campbell. They are Daniel Rios, 26, Ernesto Bailon, 17, and Alfredo Romero, 23, all of New Summerfield, Texas.
Rios worked at McElroy Plastics, Campbell said.
Police are looking for a fourth suspect, Desiree Dawn Lingo-Perkins, 31, of New Summerfield, who the FBI claims made telephone calls to the McElroy family in an attempt to extort a ransom.
The family contacted federal authorities immediately after receiving the first ransom demand, which was for $200,000, Campbell said.
Campbell declined to say why authorities believe McElroy was killed before the first ransom call was placed.
Rios and McElroy knew each other from work, he said. Police believe McElroy left work and voluntarily went to a New Summerfield home where the kidnappers were, Campbell said. Sometime later, his arms and legs were bound with duct tape and he was killed by strangulation, most likely with a police-style baton called an asp, Campbell said.
Campbell said the kidnappers' motive seemed to be simply money: "We believe Mr. McElroy fell in with a crowd of cold-blooded people."
Rios was captured March 10 trying to collect the ransom at an arranged drop site, said FBI Special Agent Jeff Block. The other two men were arrested March 11.
Troup is just southeast of Tyler, Texas. The McElroy family is well-known in the community and in the plastics industry in eastern Texas, said Don Gruber, who sells injection molding machines for LaBelle Industrial Sales in Jacksonville, Texas.
"I've known Kevin since he was in high school. They are a good, upstanding family," Gruber said, adding that Kevin and his brother Carl McElroy always have worked together in custom molding ventures.
The McElroys sold their previous company, Hefco Inc., also in Troup, to injection molder NDS Inc. of Lindsay, Calif., in March 1997. Hefco had 19 injection presses at the time, and mainly worked in the plumbing and waterworks industries, NDS officials said. NDS bought the company to expand beyond California, where it has one molding and one assembly plant, an NDS official said.
A person who answered the phone March 14 at McElroy's Troup plant said the company was closed temporarily.