Cop had murder suspects in custody -- then let them go

Greenwich police officer made traffic stop on murder suspects, one of whom had blood on his arm, before allowing them to drive away in stolen car.
Scott Seitz2
Jun 27, 2013


A pair of men wanted for questioning in the murder of a Baseline Road man were reportedly last seen in Greenwich, possibly moments after they allegedly killed 24-year-old Daniel Jacinto Hernandez.

Greenwich Police Officer Aaron Smith stopped Misael Lopez and Hiram Emmanuel Lopez, who are brothers, for speeding on Main Street in the village at about 12:30 a.m. June 1, according to information and phone and radio calls obtained from the Huron County Sheriff's Office through a public records request.

The Lopez brothers are the suspects in the stabbing death of Hernandez, whose body was found June 2 in the Baseline Road apartment he shared with the Lopez brothers. Investigators have stated they believe Hernandez may have been dead for two days before being found by a farm field boss.

According to reports, one of the Lopez brothers' arms was covered in blood at the traffic stop, while the other brother was trying to conceal himself between the passenger seat and door of the 2004 Dodge Stratus they were driving with Virginia plates, which belonged to Hernandez, the murder victim.

Deputies learned of the Greenwich traffic stop when detectives ran a Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS) search for any agency nationwide which might have stopped the vehicle, and the Greenwich incident popped up.

"Greenwich police had stopped that car and ran that plate," Detective Sgt. Josh Querin said Thursday.

Sheriff Dane Howard said no one from Greenwich police contacted the HCSO about the traffic stop.

"This whole thing is quite bizarre," Howard said.

Greenwich Chief Steve Dorsey and Smith are both out of the office until Monday and could not be reached for comment.

"The driver advised he had just gotten off work at Wiers Farm," Querin said. "The officer did not ID the two individuals."

Reports stated the officer did not run a driver's license check on either of the Lopezes.

One of Smith's calls from the scene to the HCSO dispatch requested deputy backup. Later in the call, Smith called off the backup, saying deputies were not needed.

Deputy Shannon Lyons and Sgt. Chuck Summers were just a short distance away before being called off.

According to a Greenwich police report, the vehicle was stopped for speeding.

"They didn't stop right away, which is a red flag," Chief Deputy Ted Patrick said.

Patrick said he didn't want to second-guess the work of Smith, but did talk about normal protocol at a traffic stop.

"You ask for positive ID and proof of insurance," he said. "Then, you look for indicators like if you smell alcohol and see alcohol."

There was an excessive amount of beer and liquor observed at the Baseline Road crime scene, the sheriff said.

"First, the vehicle had Virginia plates and second, the two were acting very suspiciously," Patrick said.

"And, there was no hurry, because you had already called for help," he added.

Patrick said reports show the officer told the Lopez brothers if they could produce an ID, he'd let them go.

At one point, as noted in the radio call, Smith had one of the Lopezes in custody in the back of the cruiser.

Upon hearing this, the sheriff had the Greenwich police cruiser towed to the sheriff's office nearly two weeks after the incident, something he said he can't recall happening in his 29 years of law enforcement.

The cruiser was searched for evidence, such as the victim's blood, by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

"There was some evidence collected and sent to the lab and we are awaiting results," Howard said.

If the victim's blood is found, murder warrants can be issued for the Lopez brothers. Currently, they are wanted on a warrant for theft of a motor vehicle.

So, overall, maybe some good can come from this event, the sheriff said.

"We sure hope so," Howard said.


yogi bear

I am whistling the theme from the Andy Griffith show in my head as I read this.


What? Andy would have apprehended them immediately! And had Barney let them go, Andy would have been waiting at the end of the road.

yogi bear

Yeah, your right. they would have sworn in Goober and Floyd and had a posse look for them.


@yogi - LOL, I was thinking the same thing while I was reading the article. They'll probably give Smith a raise and a promotion!


1. Blood on arm.
2. No ID or insurance given.
3. speeding with out of state plates at 12:30am
4. They didn't stop right away
5. the two were acting very suspiciously
6. had one of them in custody in the back of the cruiser.
But oh well, call off back up, and no reason to hold them, Just go ahead and go on your way. Did he even at least tell them to slow down?


There is so much I could say about Officer Aaron Smith and him letting people off. Steve Dorsey is supposed to be the chief of Greenwich but it's Aaron who runs that town. Picking and choosing who he lets commit crimes.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..


If your a cop in Greenwich and you let a murder suspect go can you keep your job? What if you let two murder suspects go? This is messed up.


In Greenwich that's called "DOUBLE JEOPARDY"...or putting your life in danger twofold!


oh boy lmao!! leave it up to Greenwich p.d.! When arnet they screwing something up but this is the biggest mistake of all.. come on smith what were you thinking??? First your co officer nolen shoots a woman in the foot then you let 2 killers go free! what a proud little town!


@Truth -- That's the problem, the officer probably WASN'T thinking. Oh man, after rereading the article again.. the stopping officer sounds like he's completely incompetent. I mean, the photos of the brothers have been floating around since the incident happened... and he STILL lets them go. Man.. He shouldn't even be a police officer. If he let two murder suspects walk away free & clear... what else is he letting people get away with?


Clark W. Griswald

Try reading it again, the murder wasn't discovered until the next day.


Exactly, the article reads to make the officer look wary until you hear all sides.


Pretty sure this happened at the same time of the murder...the pictures were NOT released yet.


SPEEDING in Greenwich??
The limit is 25MPH!
You can be speeding on a bicycle there.
Those two did not have any warants against them YET!


He may have been afraid of Obama's justice dept. getting him for racial profiling. Hasn't anyone heard?.. and in a little town of Greenwich. I am sure with all the hispanics/mexicans in area. It is a big worry of being accused racial. so easier to just let go.. That is a society we have become.


Couldn't agree more


Classic "trucker" comment. Low IQ equals shifting gears for a living.


coming from a "man" who does "meth" almost to the point of "od".

Fibber Mcgee

Question? How did this story become known, and who made the public record request? just curious..


Good question, just who does the article benefit?


stupid question it was indeed. comprehend what you read and maybe you can answer your own question. why don't you just read it 3 times that would help you... read the part about leads database. Hint hint


I have never seen a cop take the cuffs off and let anyone go once they made that commitment.
And if they were all bloody, would you not question that?
True the car wouldn't had come back stolen even if he did his job and called it in but WTF?


Ask yourself what is NOT in the article….read between the lines and you’ll see that perhaps the Sheriff’s Office is deflecting from their own failures in this case.
As no crime was reported, law enforcement was not on the lookout for these guys at the time of the traffic stop….and now that the Sheriff’s Office has four road deputies out at any given moment did they or did they not respond for backup? Be wary of the usual smoke and mirrors from the S.O., seems to me like the usual pre-emptive cover their own arse.


With the migrant workers in the area the PD is used to out of state plates and "suspicious" behaviour, not to mention the whole "no hable english". I find it interesting how the S.O. is judging Greenwich PD and making negative public comments. I don't doubt fault on the PD but I certainly don't believe the S.O. is not at fault either.


But it doesn't neglect te fact that he didnt ask for ID or proof of insurance....also blood on the one shows he is just there for the paycheck


Why would you tow the car two weeks after the fact? Who knows how many people were in and out of that car. They could have just sent BCI to the Greenwich PD to give it the once over. If they find DNA evidence wouldn't they have to keep the car? If they find the guys and there charged how will the defence be able to check the DNA? We could only hope if the evidence was on a seat or arm rest in the car and they kept them for evidence


Maybe they gave him some money lol


@ Fibber Mcgee Deputies learned of the Greenwich traffic stop when detectives ran a Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS) search for any agency nationwide which might have stopped the vehicle, and the Greenwich incident popped up.

Fibber Mcgee

Thanks, I did understand that, but I was curious as to how this became public to the media. Was there a report with the GPD info on it made public?