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3 men found bound, gagged, and executed in Ohio, fourth man miraculously survived after being shot in the head; onetime drug lord in custody

By Colin Kalmbacher,


Elias Gudino is accused of murder in a triple homicide out of northeast Ohio that occurred in March 2023. (Copley Police Department)

Three men were murdered and dumped in northeastern Ohio as part of what authorities believe to be a series of executions. Miraculously, a fourth potential victim appears to have survived.

Authorities were called just before 9 p.m. on March 10 after someone reported finding a body, the Copley Police Department said in a press release .

“Copley police officers arrived on the scene and discovered a deceased adult Hispanic male who had been bound and gagged,” the CPD said. “The male was lying close to the edge of the roadway and appeared to have been dumped there sometime overnight.”

Roughly 20 minutes earlier, Akron Police Department officers discovered two other dead men in the woods near Cordova Avenue in Akron, the CPD learned. Those bodies were found in what was described as “similar circumstances” and “not far from the location” of the other victim. All the victims were found in Summit County and the two law enforcement agencies mounted a joint investigation.

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    “Police believe that the males had likely been kidnapped from outside this area and brought to Summit County,” the CPD said. “These males had been bound and gagged. Police are still trying to determine the reason for the kidnapping or what activity the victims might have been involved in. It appears that person(s) shot these males while they were bound and gagged.”

    Each of the three men, police said, suffered the same fate. After being bound and gagged, they were shot and killed execution-style.

    That same afternoon, police ascertained a suspect: Elias Gudino, 58, the CPD said. He was subsequently charged with one count each of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. Late in the evening on Friday, and through the early morning hours of Saturday, a SWAT team executed a search warrant at his house in Copley. Officials are keeping mum about what evidence, if any, came of that raid.

    On Monday, Copley Police Chief Michael Mier told local media that a fourth person narrowly escaped being executed as well.

    “We became aware that there was a fourth intended victim,” Mier told Shaker Heights, Ohio-based CBS affiliate WOIO , which serves the Cleveland metro area. “The victim is okay at this time.”

    The surviving man was also noted in a court document submitted Monday morning.

    “On March 9, 2023, the defendant caused the death of an unidentified male by use of a firearm,” an affidavit filed in Barberton Municipal Court alleges. “The victim was bound, taped and transported to a location where he was shot in the head. The defendant also attempted to cause the death of a second male by use of a firearm during the same incident. A second victim was also bound, taped and shot in the head, but survived the shooting.”

    The Cleveland-area TV station and the Akron Beacon Journal reportedly learned the names of the deceased: Inmer Reyes, 25, Victor Varela-Rodriguez, 31, and Domingo Castillo-Reyes, 35. All of the kidnapped men were from Youngstown, police added.

    The surviving man is not being named at this time, police said.

    Gudino is the only person charged for now, but that could change.

    “We think it’s always possible there could be others involved and that’s one of the things we’re trying to determine,” Mier told WOIO.

    According to the CPD, additional charges against the defendant are currently pending. Gudino is due in court on Wednesday, March 15.

    According to federal court records , the defendant previously ran a relatively minor cocaine-oriented illegal drug business based out of Akron through 2009. He ultimately served roughly seven years of a 12-and-a-half-year sentence after pleading guilty to two out of three charges in a federal indictment. He was released from prison in 2017.

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