The Lookout

Kentucky Derby murder: Police still without a suspect in Churchill Downs groomer killing

The Lookout

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Jockey Mario Gutierrez rides I'll Have Another to victory in the Kentucky Derby, May 5, 2012. (David J. Philli …

Police still do not have any suspects in the mysterious death of a horse groomer whose body was found inside a barn at the Kentucky Derby on Sunday, just yards away from this year's winner at Churchill Downs.

Police are interviewing and seeking possible witnesses in the case of Adan Fabian Perez, a 48-year-old Guatemalan native, police Lt. Barry Wilkerson said Monday during a press conference in Louisville.

Police are treating Perez's death as a homicide. Wilkerson said police have no suspects at this time.

"I will say we are searching very diligently for anyone who has information," Wilkerson said.

An autopsy was performed on Perez's body on Monday, but the coroner's office refused to release details, the Associated Press reported. Jo-Ann Farmer, chief deputy coroner for Jefferson County, said she was withholding information pending the investigation into the death. She said the autopsy did reveal injuries on Perez's body, the AP reported.

Perez's body was found early Sunday morning about a 150 yards from the barn where I'll Have Another, Saturday's Kentucky Derby winner, was kept. Wilkerson said Perez's body was in the back of the barn. His wounds and the location of where his body was found indicated "that this was not a natural event," he said.

Various altercations were reported at Churchill Downs on Saturday, and police are investigating whether they might be connected to Perez's death, Wilkerson said. It appeared Perez died sometime after midnight Sunday, Wilkerson said.

"Mr. Perez was a father and brother, and obviously a son of someone," Wilkerson said. "It's another individual who lost his life. It's our duty to find out who did this."

Police also will review any surveillance video that might be available for clues, the lieutenant said.

Homicide detectives arrived at the scene and determined that foul play was involved. "However, we still don't have an exact cause of death," Alicia Smiley, Louisville Metro Police Department spokeswoman, told Louisville's WHAS-11 television. "We'll await the coroner's report for those details."

The body of Perez, who had been living in dorms at Churchill Downs, was discovered by another worker. He was identified by his 19-year-old son, Wilson Deejesus Fabian Perez, the TV station reported. Police also spoke with Perez's son, Wilkerson said.

The Associated Press noted that about a week after last year's Kentucky Derby, jockey Michael Baze's body was found in a vehicle near the stables at the famed Louisville track. His death was ruled an accidental drug overdose.

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