The search is on for a suspect who threatened to assassinate Rhode Island state troopers because no criminal charges were brought in a motor vehicle accident that killed a pregnant 23-year-old and her baby last year, state police officials said Thursday.
A caller to the Warren Police Department in February warned that troopers would be assassinated within three days, according to a recording released by state police.
"The next 72 hours on the border of Connecticut, watch your back," said the caller, who spoke with an accent. "The Mexican gangs are out to get them."
Major Michael Winquist said troopers and other law enforcement throughout the state were put on "very high alert" but that no further threats were made.
Authorities released the audio recording along with video and a still photograph of the suspect, saying they are hoping the public can help after they exhausted all leads.
State police announced in February - three days before the threatening call - that there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against the Newport man involved in a crash in September on Route 4 that killed Sullynette Sanchez. Her baby was delivered after the accident, but died later.
Benjamin Servideo pleaded guilty in traffic court to failure to maintain control and failure to drive at the right speed. He lost his driver's license for eight months and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Police called the accident "horrific and a tragedy" but said there was no crime; it was described as a case of distracted driving.
Relatives of Sanchez, a native of Puerto Rico who worked in the admissions office at the University of Rhode Island, called it unfair that no charges were being brought. They held signs outside the Traffic Tribunal on the day Servideo pleaded guilty, including one that said, "You took two lives, Pay for your actions."
State police said Thursday the threatening call was made on Feb. 8 around 3:50 p.m. from a payphone in the 600 block of Dexter Street in Central Falls. Police interviewed businesses in the area as well as several potential suspects, but nothing came of the leads, Winquist said.
The audio of the call was sent to the FBI for linguistic analysis, but there were no definitive findings on where the accent was from or whether it was real, according to Winquist.
Anyone with information can call Rhode Island State Police at 866-490-8477.
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