MANATEE — Triple homicide suspect Andres “Andy” Avalos hung his wife from a cord, beat her and shot her and shot two victims multiple times, according to a report released Monday by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
The Avaloses’ 4-year-old son was also at the house when his mother, Amber Avalos, 33, and a neighbor, Denise Potter, 46, were killed, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.
Avalos, who a prosecutor said has confessed to the killings, is charged with three counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of the women at the Avaloses’ home in Northwest Bradenton; and the death of the Rev. James “Tripp” Battle, 31, at Bayshore Baptist Church.
Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, said they have “theories” on Avalos’ motive, but are not releasing additional information at this time. Amber Avalos’ family members have hinted at Andy Avalos’ drug use.
“I know a lot of people were saying this is a crime of passion, and we won’t get into details, but he was messed up lately,” Deanna Freniere, Amber Avalos’ sister, said on Friday. “They were high school sweethearts, they’ve been together since they were 16 years old, they had six kids together. Something like drugs can wreck a family this bad.”
Due to the 51 hours between the homicides and Avalos’ capture, Bristow said deputies will not conduct drug tests on Avalos, since they would likely be out of his system.
Deputies were first called to Bayshore Baptist Church, 6502 14th St. W., by Joy Battle, Tripp’s wife, at 1:19 p.m. Thursday. She told deputies that Avalos had arrived at the church at 12:55 p.m. and entered the business office, where he sat and talked with Joy Battle for about 20 minutes. She said Avalos was, “rambling on about how the world was evil.” Tripp Battle called his wife to check on her and came to the office after she told him Avalos was still there, according to the report. When Tripp Battle approached the office, Avalos stood up, exited the office and slammed the door behind him. Joy Battle told deputies that she then heard several gunshots and saw her husband fall to the ground as Avalos walked away. She immediately called 911.
Deputies were called by family members while investigating the original crime scene, who said Avalos had called them and said there were two bodies at his home in Northwest Bradenton and immediately hung up.
After obtaining a search warrant, deputies entered Avalos’ home in the 1200 block of 67th Street Northwest.
They discovered Potter lying in the hallway with multiple gunshot wounds, according to the report.
Amber Avalos was located in the laundry room, strung from a cord with severe trauma to the face and a gunshot wound to the chest. After killing the two women, Avalos took the 4-year-old to daycare, drove his vehicle to the Walmart located at 6225 State Road 64, got into a taxi and went to the second crime scene, Bayshore Baptist Church, according to Bristow.
Deputies interviewed the 4-year-old who was in the home at the time of the homicides. The child said Avalos was the only other person in the home when the homicides occurred, according to the sheriff’s office. The report did not say whether the child saw any of the incident.
All the Avalos’ couple’s children were released from the safe house where they were held during the manhunt for their father, Bristow said. They were placed with unspecified relatives.
The suspect was located Saturday afternoon in a trailer park just north of the church shooting scene. Bristow said they don’t think Avalos ever went far from Bayshore Baptist Church in the 51 hours law enforcement searched for him. Avalos had a firearm on him that matched the caliber of the casings found at the crime scenes, according to the report.
The suspect admitted to killing all three victims, Assistant State’s Attorney Art Brown said during a court hearing Sunday. Bristow said law enforcement has theories about possible motives, but he declined to elaborate.
Avalos is being held without bond at the Manatee County jail.
He is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 9, according to court records.