There are new developments in a year-long News Channel 3 investigation.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is looking into possible connections between a triple murder in 1981 and murder-suicide in 2005 that claimed six lives.
It’s a story you’ll only see on News Channel 3.
We have internal documents from the Cold Case Division of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department showing the depth of the investigation.
We will not reveal the investigators’ identity at this time since the documents show their lives may be in danger.
The investigation ranges from a local indian tribe to the top levels of the federal government.
Nicaraguan arms deals, stolen computer databases, weapons testing on local Cabazon Indian land and a lawsuit alleging conspiracy from the highest federal officials of the 1980s.
All of these are now being investigated by the Riverside County Cold Case Division.
On July 1, 1981, Fred Alvarez, his girlfriend Patty Castro and friend Ralph Boger were shot to death on Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage. There was a house at the location that has since been bulldozed. Nobody was ever arrested for the shooting.
Family menbers and friends say Cabazon Band of Mission Indians Vice Chairman Fred Alvarez was going to blow the whistle with documents from the early 1980’s showing a business partnership between defense contractor Wackenhut Services and Cabazon Manager John Phillip Nichols to form Cabazon Arms.
The tribe that now runs the Fantasy Springs Casino was a pioneer in Indian gaming, starting with a small card room.
Nichols allegedly planned on using Indian sovereign land to test and build pistols, assault rifles, sniper guns and rocket launchers.
The partnership was interested in biological weapons that could be deployed in small countries.
Twenty-fiveyears ago, the offices of Cabazon arms were in an office suite on Requa Avenue in Indio.
This is at the heart of the Iran-Contra scandal that affected President Ronald Reagan’s administration, whether weapons were sold to Central American groups to pay for the release of hostages in Iran.
The documents show that some of these weapons were developed near Indio.
Three people may have been murdered to protect that secret.
Cabazon business manager John Phillip Nichols later went to prison for a separate case of murder solicitation, but tribal officials say that any connection to the Alvarez triple murder was “ridiculous and malicious.”
Wackenhut corporation declined to comment to News Channel 3, but denied any wrongdoing in the book “Return of the Buffalo: The Story Behind America’s Indian Gaming Explosion.”
The murder case has been reopened and closed multiple times in the past 27 years. Sheriff’s investigators have asked friends and former partners of District Attorney Investigator David McGowan whether he was working the case in 2005.
An investigation concluded that McGowan murdered his family of five before shooting himself on May 10th, 2005. Surviving family members tell News Channel 3 they believe the investigation was rushed and incomplete.
Sheriff’s officials now tell News Channel 3 the District Attorney’s office was not investigating the Alvarez case.
Another document says otherwise:
Former DA Investigator and current Indio Councilman Gene Gilbert handled the case in the early 1990’s.
His report detailed a weapons test held in Lake Cahuilla between Cabazon Arms and two Nicaraguan generals. (Documents 1, 2, 3.)
It is unclear at this time whether Investigator David McGowan was working on the Alvarez triple murder before his 2005 death.
What is clear is that the sheriff’s cold case squad is taking it seriously, interviewing people familiar with McGowan’s former cases and reopening a case that in the words of one investigator, they “do not want to continue working – based on the number of people who have met an untimely demise while doing so.”
As of Wednesday, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians has not responded to News Channel 3’s questions.
Our next report will focus on the importance of a stolen computer database in the 1980’s, and how a journalist may have been murdered after uncovering a local connection to a massive political conspiracy.