Suspects, body in homicide case slipped through cracks

All the clues and the suspects for a slaying were in a dead man’s Mission Terrace home, but it would take a week for the pieces to fall into place.

Now, a former Las Vegas showgirl and her boyfriend of several years are missing, along with their two daughters, one of whom was kidnapped from her Soquel guardians more than two weeks ago.

Police believe Richard Carelli and Michelle Pinkerton could be as far away as Mexico, and they are wanted on $5 million and $1 million warrants, respectively.

The slaying victim, 49-year-old computer programmer Leonard “Milo” Hoskins, was found in the suspects’ van, but not until more than a month after police believe he was killed, according to a search warrant filed on Feb. 1. Police even interviewed Carelli and Pinkerton on Jan. 24 as the victim’s body decomposed in a van parked several feet away outside his 60 Lamartine St. home.

Carelli first told investigators they could search his two vehicles, a car and a van, and then became “very upset and belligerent,” according to the search affidavit. Despite his being on probation and cadaver dogs being attracted to the van, police inspectors failed to search the van on site.

Police towed the van to their impound lot, but did not discover the body for another week. Police are only allowed to search without a warrant if there are exigent circumstances, meaning someone’s life must be in peril, according to police Sgt. Steve Mannina.

On Jan 25., the two picked up their 6-year-old daughter Viana Lee Carelli in Soquel, in Santa Cruz County, according to Pinkerton’s parents, Gene and Ellen Pauly.

The Paulys had obtained custody of their granddaughter more than a year ago because Pinkerton and Carelli had become addicted to methamphetamine. They were still allowed unsupervised visits, however, and when they didn’t return the child on Jan. 27, two $50,000 warrants were issued for child abduction.

The two suspects had been living in the San Francisco home, Gene Pauly said, because Hoskins’ roommate Stephanie Nuttman was a counselor helping the two with their drug problems.

Police believe Hoskins may have been killed because he tried to evict the two. Carelli has at least three claims in Santa Cruz County for unpaid rent.

Pinkerton called father Gene Pauly on Jan. 27 to say their car had broken down, but when the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office checked where the call had come from, authorities realized the two suspects were already in Las Vegas, where Pinkerton had once worked as a showgirl and dancer.

Their second daughter, 4-month-old Faith Carelli, is believed to be with them as well.

Mannina said investigators were careful to obtain a search warrant so any evidence inside the van could be preserved for future court proceedings.

bbegin@examiner.com

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