Murder suspect found living in Washington

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Saturday, October 27, 2007
— He got out of jail on a snafu.

Nineteen years later, his luck’s run out.

A man wanted for murder in Beloit since 1988 was discovered Friday living with a fake identity in Bellevue, Wash. He was picked up by police on an outstanding warrant and—finally—fingerprinted.

Officials think Ezequiel Lopez-Zavala, 42, has been living in Bellevue for 15 years. He’s been married and has a State of Washington driver’s license.

Beloit and Illinois police in northern Illinois arrested Lopez-Zavala on Sept. 19, 1988.

The next day police issued a warrant alleging first-degree murder.

The victim was David J. Landwehr, 22, of Beloit. He was stabbed to death in an early morning incident at 802 Vine Street. The two men had been arguing over a phone bill.

Lopez-Zavala was dating Landwehr’s sister, The Janesville Gazette reported on Sept. 21, 1988.

Lopez-Zavala was held in Winnebago County Jail on a $50,000 bond and refused to return to Wisconsin. Then, on Sept. 27, he was released from the Winnebago County Jail when his family posted $5,000.

“I have serious doubts that we’ll ever see him again,” Rock County District Attorney James Daley said that day.

The Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office had asked Daley how much Lopez-Zavala’s bond would be if he were in Wisconsin. Daley said $50,000.

But under Illinois law, Lopez-Zavala could be released by posting 10 percent of the bond.

A Winnebago county judge raised the bond to $500,000 later that day to try to fix the problem.

Lopez-Zavala failed to appear in court twice in October. His Chicago attorney assumed he had returned to Mexico.

Winnebago County forfeited the bond in December.

Beloit Police Department Capt. Bill Tyler was on the force in 1988. The department spent Saturday calling retired police officers and U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who had worked on the case over the decades.

“Not that it was necessary to call them, but they were glad to hear about it,” Tyler said. “You hate to have an open case like that, especially when you know who did it.”

Last updated: 10:33 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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