CROWN POINT — A man shot a New Chicago woman in the face as she ate a slice of pie, then he turned the gun on her boyfriend over a drug debt, court records allege.
Teal L. "Toby" Cross, 25, of Hammond, was arrested Thursday on a warrant for two murder charges in the shooting deaths of Manuel F. Alfaro, 52, and Heather Rayner, 39, New Chicago Police Chief James Richardson said.
A neighbor found Alfaro and Rayner dead inside their home April 3 in the 300 block of Van Buren Avenue in New Chicago after his wife noticed their dog had been outside for some time, Lake Criminal Court records allege.
Rayner had a gunshot wound under her right eye, a fork on her chest and a plate with what appeared to be a slice of pie on her lap. Alfaro had been found on the floor, with what appeared to be dried blood around his head.
Several neighbors told police they had observed what they believed to be drug activity at Alfaro and Rayner's house. One neighbor said he saw a dark-colored Volkswagen pull up to the house and a man go inside for about 10 minutes, records say.
Several witnesses reported hearing gunshots the afternoon of March 31.
A member of the FBI's Gang Response Investigative Team task force performed a forensic analysis on a phone found at the scene and learned Alfaro had been texting in March 2018 with a person listed at "Toby," who appeared to become increasingly upset about a debt Alfaro owed, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Alfaro and "Toby" also appeared to be discussing drugs by using the words "boy" and "girl," which mean heroin and crack cocaine, records say.
Alfaro's last phone call, which lasted about 8 minutes, was with "Toby," the affidavit says.
A judge granted a subpoena for data from the phone number belonging to "Toby," and police learned it had been pinged at Ridge Road and Interstate 65 about the time the homicides are believed to have occurred March 31.
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Police learned "Toby" also had talked to a woman with whom officers were familiar, and she told investigators she knew the man from Wiggle's Gentleman's Club in Hammond. She said she knew the man as "Uno" and provided police with a SnapChat photo, which a Hammond officer recognized as Cross, records say.
Another witness told police he met "Toby" through Rayner and had purchased drugs from "Toby," records say. That man said "Toby" had brought a woman with him several times during drug deals.
Cross was arrested Aug. 8 in Indianapolis on warrants out of Lake County, and police executed a search warrant on a black 2011 Volkswagen CC. Officers found a birthday card to Cross from a woman, who later was identified by several witnesses as the same woman seen riding in Cross's car, records allege.
Police interviewed the woman, who told police she met Cross in 2017 and had accompanied him during several suspected drug deals, the affidavit says.
The woman told police she saw photos of Alfaro and Rayner's house in the newspaper after they were killed and recognized it, because she thought Cross had been selling drugs to Rayner, records say.
When she asked Cross about the double homicide, he replied, "Yes, I've seen it," according to the affidavit.
Richardson said Cross had drugs on him when he was arrested early Thursday. Additional charges were pending, he said.
The case marked the first homicide in New Chicago in more than eight years.