NBC 7's Candice Nguyen speaks with former SDPD detective Manny Lopez about the mysterious triple homicide case involving the slayings of San Diego residents Ilona Flint and Salvatore and Gianni Belvedere.
Earlier this week, investigators confirmed a victim found dead in a trunk in Riverside, Calif., was 24-year-old Gianni Belvedere, a Tierrasanta man who had gone missing last month. His brother and fiance, Sal Belvedere and Ilona Flint, were found shot to death Christmas Eve in a Macy's parking lot.
"This, to me, is a money situation more than anything else. They're probably trying to find out from [Gianni] if there's anybody somewhere that owed them," said Manny Lopez, a private investigator who served the San Diego Police Department nearly 11 years as a detective and sergeant.
"[Police] are going to have to determine who these [victims] were associated with. To me, it's not a stranger. It's got to be somebody that was either hired to do that or knew them themselves. That's why they killed them all, to keep the identity from coming across," he explained.
Members of the Belvedere family filed for bankruptcy in recent years and had liens and other financial problems.
Gianni Belvedere registered a food business in San Diego last year called La Primavera Specialty Foods. His fiance, Flint, posted pictures of the business's products on her Facebook page last March.
Lopez said he does not believe the homicides are a result of organized crime. However, he said whoever's responsible was trying to send a message.
“I think it was a lesson, 'We're going to show you. We're going to kill you, your relatives and your fiance so you better come up with whatever information or money or whatever,’” he said.
The triple homicide case remains under investigation. On Friday, San Diego police held a briefing on the latest developments in the case. Officials released new suspect description details of a man they believe may be linked to the crimes.