After chain smoking cigarettes and blasting music, Carlos Zuluaga became so incensed he killed the family’s four pets and beat his uncle to death, tying his hands with an electrical cord, wrapping him in a rug and depositing the body in a barren field six blocks from his home, police said Monday night.
A day-long investigation by police, sparked by Zuluaga’s mother’s worries about her missing brother and her missing pets, ended Monday with the gruesome discovery of what police believe is Carlos Nino's body, a dead cat in a crate and three dogs dead and buried behind the family’s Southwest Miami-Dade home.
After hours of questioning, police said Zuluaga, 30, confessed to murdering his 54-year-old uncle and disposing of the body in the field. He has been charged with second-degree murder with a deadly weapon. Family members say Zuluaga suffers from drug abuse and schizophrenia and hadn't taken his medication for three months, according to Miami Herald news partner CBS4.
“The totality of the circumstances is what raised the alarms,’’ said Det. Alvaro Zabaleta, a spokesman for Miami-Dade police. “When you have an area rug missing, dead animals buried and a missing relative you unfortunately have to suspect the worst.’’
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According to the arrest affidavit, Zuluaga’s mother and aunt, who lived with Zuluaga and Nino, had gone on a brief vacation, leaving the two men in the home at 12910 SW 148th St. Rd., near Zoo Miami. The mother called her brother throughout the weekend and he told her that Zuluaga, her son, “was not allowing him to sleep by smoking cigarettes and playing music all night.’’
When the women returned home at approximately 8:30 p.m. Sunday, the mother realized her three dogs were not barking. When she asked her son about the dogs, he told her they had “disappeared,’’ police said. When she asked him about his uncle, he told her he had “disappeared’’ as well.
The mother began to search her home and noticed the rug was missing and fresh sod was planted in the backyard, police said. She asked him about the missing rug and he told her that “disappeared’’ as well.
The mother called her nephew— her sister’s son — and asked him to come to the house. He began digging where the fresh sod was and found three dead dogs with trauma to their necks. He found the cat in a crate, also with trauma to its neck, the affidavit said.
At about 11 p.m. Sunday, the mother called police, Zabaleta said.
Police immediately focused on Nino’s nephew. They suspected foul play because several of Nino’s personal belongings — his wallet and car keys and gray Volkswagen — were still at the home.
Police called in bloodhounds to search for Nino in wooded areas near the home and along the banks of the canals that run through the South Dade neighborhood, known as Deerwood Estates. Late Monday morning family members led police to a field near Southwest 126th Avenue and 143rd Street, where the body was found on a dirt road that curves out of view from the street behind some townhouses.
Luis Nino told CBS4 he and three brothers found their brother’s body inside a carpet with a towel and bandage around his head. He said the hands of his brother, Carlos Nino, were tied with an electrical cord.
“We are upset and overwhelmed by this,” Luis Nino told the station.