Pair’s 5-hour violence spree included murder of dad stringing Christmas lights, a dozen robberies: prosecutors

Pedro Mendiola and Moises Barrios started robbing and beating people with a crowbar and a bat around 3:30 p.m. Dec. 11 on the North Side and did not stop until 8 p.m. on the South Side, police said.

SHARE Pair’s 5-hour violence spree included murder of dad stringing Christmas lights, a dozen robberies: prosecutors
A group of girls lay candles at the front door of the Tellez families home during a vigil and memorial for Jose Tellez, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

A group of girls lay candles at the front door of the Tellez families home during a vigil and memorial for Jose Tellez, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Armed with a baseball bat and crowbar, two men went on a violent robbery spree in December that included beating a man to death in Gage Park in front of his daughter as he put up Christmas lights, officials said Friday.

Pedro Mendiola, 21, and Moises Barrios, 23, are charged with murdering Jose Tellez on Dec. 11 while on the nearly five-hour crime spree during which they beat and robbed 12 other people, according to Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors.

The pair face a laundry list of additional charges, including aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, armed robbery and aggravated battery.

Judge Maryam Ahmad said she was taken aback by prosecutors lengthy and detailed account of the alleged crimes by Mendiola’s and Barrios, saying it was “shocking to the conscious.”

Ahmad ordered both held without bail.

The two started robbing and beating people around 3:30 p.m. on the North Side and did not stop until 8 p.m. on the South Side, police said.

Jose Tellez

Jose Tellez

Provided

The pair’s seventh robbery victim that day was Tellez, 49, who was outside decorating his home about 6:30 p.m. in the 3500 block of West 58th Street when the pair drove up and approached him, Police Supt. David Brown said.

“The offenders had a baseball bat and a crowbar and repeatedly struck him in the face and head as his young daughter watched from inside the home,” Brown said.

The two fled as the young girl tried to get her brother to help, he said. Tellez was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and pronounced dead later that evening.

His cellphone was the only item reported missing, prosecutors said; it was later found in the 4900 block of South Lawndale Avenue.

“They drove up there to Mr. Tellez as he was putting Christmas lights out and getting his home set up for the holiday season,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said in court. “His 14-year-old daughter ... what does she get for Christmas? She gets to watch her dad get beaten to death with a baseball bat and a crowbar.”

Barrios was arrested the day of the murder in Cicero as he allegedly stood next to a red Dodge Intrepid registered to Barrios’ mother that authorities said the pair used to drive around and commit the robberies. He was initially charged with only two of the robberies the pair allegedly committed.

Multiple proceeds from the robberies were found on Barrios and in the car, including a cellphone that was taken from a U.S. Postal Worker whose mail truck was robbed about 4 p.m., prosecutors said.

Inside the car, investigators found a baseball bat and a crowbar that had Telluz’s blood on it. Barrios’ DNA was also found on the crowbar and Mendiola’s fingerprints were found on the bat, Murphy said.

Barrios and Mendiola were identified in photo arrays by the victims of their crimes, some of which were captured by video surveillance cameras, prosecutors said.

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A few dozen family, friends and community members gather for a vigil and memorial for Jose Tellez, outside his Gage Park home, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In custody, Barrios admitted to driving the red Dodge all day but denied robbing anyone, prosecutors said.

Mendiola, meanwhile, blamed Barrios but admitted to his role in all the attacks, which he said he participated in because “Christmas was around the corner and he had no money for his kids,” Murphy said. He also allegedly identified himself and Barrios in an image take from surveillance video of one of the robberies.

Mendiola was on bond in a pending unlawful use of a weapon case at the time of the crime spree and has seven prior misdemeanor convictions, prosecutors said.

Barrios was also on bond on a pending unlawful use of a weapon charge from last May after he was found carrying a “jackknife,” and has previous convictions on drug, weapon and burglary charges, prosecutors said.

Shortly after his murder, family and neighbors held a vigil for Tellez and said they were creating a neighborhood watch program to combat crime.

“He was someone you always relied on,” Tellez’s niece Daisy Torres said then. “He loved to dance and parties, and was a very funny person.”

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