Hanging Out

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An older, balding man -- someone who resembled Edgardo -- kissed her for about five minutes and was the first to penetrate her. The next thing she remembered, she said, was her friends coming to her rescue. She left without her underwear, socks or shoes.

When police interviewed the girl again on August 11, she identified the Avaloy cousins as the men who'd grabbed her arm and pulled her into their apartment. This time she told police that one of the cousins -- she wasn't sure which -- got on top of her first and raped her when her eyes were shut. She said it hurt. The two were arguing in Spanish, and she couldn't understand them. Then two older men, one of whom she described as Edgardo (although she didn't pick him out of a lineup), entered the room. The first two men switched positions.

The girl described both the man who raped her first and the man who went second as "the light-skinned one." After that, another man, with a goatee and wearing a dark hat, got on top of her and raped her.

Then a fourth man, someone consistent with the balding Edgardo, got on top of her, the girl told police. That contradicted her initial interview, in which she described someone matching Edgardo's description as first to rape her.

A beam of light shining through the closed window in the darkened apartment was all that allowed the girl to identify the men, she said.

On August 9, Aurora police stopped two black men who appeared to be burglarizing a vehicle at the Heatherwood Apartments. They weren't, but a boy from the neighborhood stepped up and told the officers that police were looking for the men in connection with the twelve-year-old girl's assault. The men volunteered blood for DNA testing and were released to a friend, who said he could put police in touch with the real culprits. The friend said he'd have the Avaloy cousins at Heatherwood the next day.

After meeting the officers at Heatherwood, Domingo and Martin agreed to be questioned at Aurora police headquarters. Both agreed to give blood. Domingo talked with police first. He said the girl had danced as she took off her clothes. He told the officers they wouldn't find anything on the girl that could be traced back to him, but they might find something to lead them to Edgardo, although he doubted that, because Edgardo has young children. Martin went next. He, too, told police that the girl did a striptease. He said he went to Edgardo for help getting her out of the apartment because he feared that people would think he was raping her if he tried to get her out on his own. He also told police that they'd find no evidence that he'd touched her.

The Avaloy cousins both told police the girl looked drunk. Anna says her daughter told her she'd taken a sip of alcohol that day; the girl also told police she'd consumed a small amount of alcohol. Aunty says the girl didn't seem drunk when she'd found her earlier in the evening, hanging out at the dead end. The girl didn't drink, Aunty adds, but looked forward to drinking when she got older.

"I wouldn't give a fuck if my daughter was out there butt-ass naked, dancing on the roof of the apartment," says Anna. "It don't give four grown-ass men, one in their forties, one in their thirties, the right to rape my daughter!"

Aurora police picked up Edgardo on August 13, after he was released from the hospital. Neighbors say around that time, Immigration officials came back to the apartment complex for the two men police had detained before the Avaloy cousins, the men who'd appeared to be breaking into a vehicle.

A man then called the police and offered to lead them to the fourth man they wanted to speak to in connection with the rape -- if they could help free the informant's friends from Immigration. (His officers wouldn't have called Immigration on the men, Detective Martinez says; a spokesman with Immigration couldn't confirm or deny that the men were deported, even though Westword provided their names, dates of birth, location of arrest and country of origin.)

The informant told officers he'd conducted his own investigation and it had led to 33-year-old Gilberto Castillo Bernardez, who was alone with the girl in the bedroom and came out telling Edgardo they needed to run away.

Gilberto is also from Honduras. He worked at a mail-processing facility for almost four years, and everyone there says he was a nice guy who spoke English, Spanish and a dialect from Honduras all fluently. He has a driver's license and a Social Security number, but according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he may be in the country illegally. Until 2002, Gilberto lived in Heatherwood, in an apartment next door to the manager. "He'd help my wife carry the groceries and everything," Desire says.

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Luke Turf

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