DES MOINES, Iowa –31 year-old Marvin Oswaldo Esquivel-Lopez is charged with three counts of first degree murder after he allegedly killed a family of three who was renting his downstairs basement. Police say he shared an address with the victims, 29 year-old Rossibeth Flores Rodriguez, her 11 year-old daughter Grecia, and her five year-old son Ever.
Esquivel-Lopez was in the country illegally and is now being held on a federal ICE detainer.
“The best way to characterize the relationship is roommates. We don’t know how they came to be acquainted but the victims in this case were renting the lower portion of this duplex from the suspect and his family,” said Des Moines Police Spokesman Paul Parizek.
Police say there appears to have been an argument between Esquivel-Lopez and Flores-Rodriguez earlier Tuesday evening, and that the argument lead to the shooting. What the argument was about is still a question.
“That’s probably one of the harder parts for the families and sometimes the first responders is, everybody wants to know why. The community wants to know why this happened, particularly the two precious little kids and the sad part is we may never know why,” said Parizek.
Neighbors in the area said they didn’t know the victims.
“They hadn’t, she hadn’t rented it that long-term, so they hadn’t been there that long, in fact we’re having our neighborhood association meeting tonight,” said Neighbor Dennis Young.
Young says their neighborhood, near Cheatom Park, is no stranger to violence, now holding a majority of the nine homicides the city has seen.
As for the scene of the crime, police say the home was normal, which almost made things even more unsettling for first responders.
“It was in good shape, I mean it was well-maintained, clean, toys, you name it. It was exactly what you’d expect to see in your family home…until you come across the dead bodies. I think everybody who was there was parent. You focus on the job, you focus on the task, but you walk away with a pretty heavy heart,” said Parizek.
Police also say the suspect in this case had a wife and children. Police say they’re okay and do not appear to be involved at all.
According to Des Moines Public Schools, Grecia had just completed fifth grade and Ever was about to start kindergarten.