3 charged in Columbus murder-for-hire allegedly sparked by jealousy

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Three people, including an Illinois man, have been arrested in connection with a February slaying outside a Bartholomew County factory apparently motivated by the victim’s relationship with an ex-girlfriend of one of the suspects, authorities said.

Investigators allege the Feb. 26 fatal shooting of Leobardo Rodriguez Flores outside of Tool Dynamics in Columbus was a murder-for-hire, The (Columbus) Republic reported.

A witness who had been dating Flores, 37, told police she had been having problems with her ex-boyfriend, Abraham Jimenez Cesareo, 35, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Another woman, Eladia Jacobo-Ortiz, 34, later told police she had introduced Cesareo to Eliel Avelar, 31, of Midlothian, Illinois, because Cesareo was looking for someone to hurt Flores, the affidavit states.

Ortiz told officers Cesareo gave money to Avelar on Feb. 10 at a Columbus gas station after Avelar agreed to harm Flores. On the night Flores was slain, Ortiz said Cesareo had called her and said he had watched Avelar commit the killing, the affidavit states.

Avelar was arrested on a murder charge by U.S. Marshals at a Chicago hotel, said Columbus police spokesman Lt. Matt Harris. He’s being held in Cook County, Illinois.

Cesareo and Ortiz are charged with conspiracy to commit serious bodily injury in connection with Flores’ killing. Both Columbus residents are being held on $500,000 bond at the Bartholomew County Jail in the city about 50 miles south of Indianapolis.

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