Trio face charges in killing of Rancho Cucamonga man

Two men who San Bernardino police say killed a Rancho Cucamonga man for his money and belongings are set to appear in court Thursday to confirm the appointment of their lawyers.

San Bernardino police detectives traveled last week to Decatur, Ill., to bring back Antonio Marquis Eubanks, his half-brother, John Fitzgerald Dozier, and Crystal Ann Carmelo, Dozier’s pregnant wife, to face charges in the deadly beating of Matthew Thomas Cook in July.

Eubanks and Dozier have already pleaded not guilty to murder charges in San Bernardino Superior Court, according to court records. Carmelo has not yet appeared in court.

Police say Eubanks, Dozier and Carmelo in interviews with detectives have admitted their involvement in Cook’s death on July 10 at a San Bernardino apartment building on Orange Street.

“Everything indicates it was financial gain,” said police Sgt. Gary Robertson. “They were taking advantage of him financially.”

The case began as a missing person’s report in Rancho Cucamonga and evolved into a homicide investigation as police in Decatur found Cook’s vehicle, a 2004 gray Saturn Ion, and later located and arrested the defendants.

Cook was raised in Chino Hills and graduated in 2000 from Ayala High School, where he was a member of the swim and water polo team, according to a newspaper obituary.

Ontario-based defense lawyer John-Paul Serrao, who represented Eubanks at arraignment, could neither confirm nor deny any details of the case.

“We don’t have any intelligent comment at this time because we haven’t seen any of the discovery in the case,” Serrao said Tuesday by telephone.

San Bernardino police said the defendants befriended Cook, who was mentally challenged and had attended special-education classes, a month or two before he disappeared.

Eubanks had become Cook’s roommate, and police say the defendants took advantage of him.

On July 10, the defendants took Cook to an apartment building in the 800 block of Orange Street in San Bernardino, where he was beaten to death, authorities said.

Cook’s family filed a missing person’s report with the sheriff’s station in Rancho Cucamonga on July 17.

Robertson said the defendants put Cook’s body in a rollaway trash can and kept it in a garage at the location. The container was rolled out to the curb on Aug. 15 and the contents were picked up and taken to a landfill in Colton.

After killing Cook, the defendants went back to his apartment in Rancho Cucamonga, took his electronics and vehicle, and left on a road trip to Decatur, authorities say. They sold Cook’s belongings along the way to pay for the trip, according to detectives.

As part of the missing person’s report, authorities entered Cook’s name and Saturn Ion in a national database. In early August, Decatur police found his unoccupied car in their city.

At the time, nothing suspicious was suspected, and the Decatur officers were instructed to leave the car alone. But the car was seen again at another location a week later.

Decatur officers investigated the car and learned that one of Cook’s associates, Eubanks, was a resident in their city and that there were warrants for his arrest. Police picked up Eubanks, took him back to their station, and began asking questions about Cook and the car.

Eventually, Eubanks admitted he was involved in Cook’s death, along with Dozier and Carmelo, authorities said. Officers found and arrested the couple, too.

Decatur police notified San Bernardino police on Aug. 27. Police went to the Orange Street residence, where they found evidence a person was killed there, Robertson said.

Officers also went to the landfill in Colton, shut it down and began a search for Cook’s body. Cadaver dogs from two police agencies were brought in to assist. But Cook’s body was not found, and the search was stopped after a week.

“We did not find any sign of our victim,” said Robertson.

San Bernardino police detectives went to Illinois last week to extradite the defendants back to San Bernardino County. Eubanks and Dozier were being held at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga without bail.

Carmelo,who is eight months pregnant, was being held at a hospital, detectives said.

Prosecutors charged Eubanks, Dozier and Carmelo each with one count of murder, according to the criminal complaint filed in Superior Court. They also allege Eubanks and Dozier committed the murder during a robbery.

Carmelo is alleged to have aided and abetted the slaying while she was an accomplice in the robbery, the complaint states.

San Bernardino police thanked Decatur police for their work on the case.

“They did an outstanding job,” Robertson said.

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