25 Years Later And Not A Clue In Teens Murder
The Murder of Richard Alvarado, Jr.
Case Number 54041
April 3, 1992
Galveston Police Dept.
By Breck Porter
Texas Police News
"It's not like you have one or two possibilities, you've got ten," says a veteran Galveston police officer familiar with all the players in the Richard Alvarado, Jr. murder case. The officer was a street cop in 1992 when Alvarado was tortured, beaten, stabbed and set on fire in apartment number 906 of the Back Bay Apartments on Heards Lane.
"These guys were all robbing, doing home invasions, even robbing each other, dealing dope, and generally making a buck anyway they could without regard to anyone else." They were all trying to "come up" says the cop. "They watch these movies and TV, smoke their dope, then act out what they saw. Scarface killed his own people, you know."
There were so many players involved in this murder it's a mystery why one or more of them have never 'rolled over' on the killer. Many of the characters know who the killer is but have been able to play dumb and keep the cops fooled for 25 years. Why is that?
A veteran Houston Homicide Detective says, "with all these people so closely aligned with the victim, and with all the traffic in and out of his apartment that day, there's no way in hell none of them knew who killed that kid." And he says, "if it's ever proven one or more of them knew who did the killing and didn't tell police, they too may go to prison right along with whoever did the actual killing."
It was no secret that several of Alvarado's friends and associates were gang members. Most were Hispanic or Anglo and there were a few blacks, and even though they belonged to opposing gangs, police who worked on gang cases say they often did business with each other. They bought and sold drugs with each other and did criminal fundraisers together, meaning thefts, burglaries, robberies or whatever soft target they found.
Three of the black characters questioned by police, in their early 20's, were all admittedly in the dead boy's apartment that afternoon, when he was slain. They told police they were there just drinking and listening to music.
That, of course, does not prove they did the killing or even knew anything about it. But in checking their criminal histories, one would suspect that at least one of them possessed the mindset to do a murder. A year earlier he had been convicted of assault and three years later did kill someone at the Coral Reef Apartments. He was charged with Capital Murder but a plea bargain reduced it to simple murder for which he got 18-years in prison.
Another of the characters, 19, well known to the street cops at the time, had been handled by juvenile authorities and as an adult had already been arrested for packing a pistol. After that he was convicted of Aggravated Robbery, yet only drew a 1-year sentence from the soft-on-crime system in place in Galveston County in that era. When he got out of jail for that, he was busted again for marijuana which got him 40 days in the county jail. He was what cops considered a 'sure bust'. Anytime he was seen, he was stopped, and they would find some reason to jail him. He was finally convicted of a felony when he was busted with cocaine. That qualified him for the pen when police got him again for packing heat and sent off to Huntsville for 4 years.
There was another associate of Alvarado who was clean at the time of the murder but the year following, 1993, he too was busted for carrying a weapon. After that he was arrested in Houston for marijuana. He was just earning his stripes in gangland although he had compassion for it early on.
Police reports revealed that during the investigation a clerk in a Stop-N-Go store reported that on the day before the murder, he sold four cans of charcoal lighter fluid and butane lighters to four men who lived in the Back Bay Apartments. There was no further mention of that in the police report, which seemed strange. We also know that in '92 most Stop-N-Go stores were equipped with surveillance cameras, but we found no mention of that in any of the police reports either.
Then there was Maria. She was the girlfriend of one of Richard Alvarado's buddies and word had it that Richard was dinging Maria. And when the boyfriend found that out he went over to Maria's house and kicked her door in, causing the land lady to run him off and bar him from the property. The land lady also told police she saw the boyfriend coming out of Alvarado's apartment the day of the murder and his face was all scratched up as if he'd been in a brawl with someone. Police put him on the lie detector and he flunked like a 5-year old taking a college exam. Nothing ever came of that either. The boyfriend later went to prison on a drug charge then disappeared off the radar.
Alvarado had a next door neighbor who he considered a friend that was always in and out of 906 all times of the day and night. He was said to be Richard's closest friend. We got word from him through a third party denying he did the killing, but he didn't deny he knew who did the killing. He wouldn't talk with us in person.
Richard and Yolanda Alvarado, Richard, Jr’s parents, along with sister Michelle, identified him in the morgue for police. It's heartbreaking to have to ID a loved one who dies, and traumatic when the loved one has been mutilated as this brother and son had been.
"As time passed, no one knew why this happened to Richard. Who would do this?" asked Michelle. "Rumors were flying all over town. One was that Richard had sold a big drug deal that was no good and got killed over it. Another was that he was giving dope to Maria for sex and the boyfriend killed him. Some said he bought drugs from a dealer on credit and didn't pay when it was due,” she said.
Yet another story was he was killed by mistake, that the killer was actually trying to kill his buddy. But it doesn't stand to reason the killer would continue to abuse the body and then burn it if he knew he had the wrong guy. So, did a stranger do it?
Throughout the whole ordeal, everyone pointed fingers at each other. The police said they couldn't do anything about it, they had no evidence. Then the case went cold and was reassigned to one investigator after another. But the assignments were mostly on paper. Every cold case has someone's name on it, but in real life, it's collecting dust somewhere and most in the Galveston Police Department today have never even heard of the Richard Alvarado, Jr. murder.
Maybe if someone walks into the police station someday and confesses, the case file will be dug out and dusted off and which ever officer's name is on it at the time will be able to make a case. But 20 years later, it's doubtful, unfortunately for Richard's parents and sister.
Police however, would like to hear from anyone who thinks he or she can lend something to this case. If you do, call (409) 765-3702 and they'll hook you up with whoever is working in the detective division at the time.
In a recent conversation with Michelle she said, "if anyone out there knows something...anything, please report it, it's confidential. Think of it as if it were your loved one...wouldn't you want to know? I tell stories to my kids of the memories we shared growing up. They never got to meet him and that saddens my heart. They would have loved him. Every day that goes by, there's no justice...no peace. Someone out there is enjoying their life with their family, walking around with this guilt. Please let my brother rest in peace."
This story was first published in The Police News in April 2012.