Minneapolis homicide detectives are still searching for clues in the slaying of Ricardo Orozco Negrete, who was found strangled on New Year’s Day during a welfare check at his south Minneapolis apartment.
Although the trail has grown cold in the eight months since the crime, police remain confident they will solve the case eventually. Authorities are now seeking the public’s help in putting a name and face to the killer, issuing a news release on Thursday with Orozco’s photo in hopes that someone will come forward with information about the crime.
Christopher Gaiters, one of two veteran detectives assigned to the case, said police are pursuing several leads and haven’t yet ruled out any suspects in the killing.
“Even though it seems like it’s been long … it’s still too early to rule anybody out,” Gaiters said Friday. “Everything’s in play until then.”
On the night of Jan. 1, Orozco’s decomposing body was found bound and gagged just inside his third-story apartment on the 2900 block of Cedar Avenue S. Sometime before midnight, a family friend showed up at his door, looking for a place to spend the night after a fight with her boyfriend. Sensing something was amiss when she opened the front door, court documents say, the woman alerted police, who discovered the body on the floor next to an overturned ashtray.
Police suspect the body had been there several days.
An autopsy two weeks later found his death to be a homicide, caused by strangulation.
On Friday, police said they believed the 49-year-old was “targeted,” but wouldn’t say why.
For some time, investigators focused their attention on the woman’s boyfriend, a 34-year-old Fridley man, who had often expressed his displeasure at her frequent visits to Orozco’s home. On more than one occasion, the boyfriend had threatened Orozco, court documents say, but he has never been charged in connection with the crime.
Neighbors said Orozco, a native of Mexico who came to Minnesota about a decade ago by way of California, often sat alone outside the stout, three-story apartment building, greeting people as they walked by.
Investigators are hopeful the news release will shake free some new leads.
The crime, which received little media attention at the time, has never attracted the same public interest as later, more high-profile slayings, including the brutal killing of a prominent north Minneapolis community activist during a home invasion in July.
“Is there the same likelihood of the number of tips? Probably not,” police spokesman John Elder said, adding that similarly tough-to-crack cases had been solved with the public’s help.