LMPD Lt. Barry Wilkerson talks about Churchill Dow…: Louisville metro police detective Lt. Barry Wilkerson talks about a body that was found on the Churchill Downs backside on the night of the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Police have ruled the death a homicide. (Courier-Journal)
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — (DMN) – Police in Louisville, Kentucky say they do not yet have any suspects in the murder of a man found in a Churchill Downs barn Sunday, just hours after the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby. Police are looking into several “altercations” that took place on the backside of Churchill Downs prior to the homicide and are interviewing numerous witnesses to determine if 48-year-old Adan Fabian Perez, a native of Guatemala, was involved, Lt. Barry Wilkerson said at a press conference Monday morning. “We are hoping somebody does have information and can come forward and give us an indication on why this took place,” Wilkerson said. “… We are hearing different things and want to make sure to piece that together before we try to make any assumptions on what occurred.”
The medical examiner is doing an autopsy “at this time,” Wilkerson said. Wilkerson believed the murder took place after midnight and was an “isolated” incident that didn’t have anything to do with the Derby. While he would not go into detail on the condition of the body, Wilkerson said there were some “wounds that obviously suspect foul play was involved.” And the location of the body, in the back portion of a barn, “wasn’t a natural place to be.” He wouldn’t say if the body was hidden or covered up. Police did not know if Perez was involved with any of the altercations and admitted they may have nothing to do with the case. Wilkerson declined to release specifics on the altercations, though he said Churchill security was involved.
A track security officer discovered the body shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday, said Alicia Smiley, a Louisville Metro Police spokeswoman. Perez’s body was discovered in barn No. 8. Marc A. Guilfoil, deputy executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said Perez was a groom for trainer Cecil Borel, the brother of jockey Calvin Borel. Perez lived on the backside and had been licensed by the commission since 2008, Guilfoil said. Jo-Ann Farmer, the Jefferson County chief deputy coroner, said Perez’s 19-year-old son, who also works at Churchill, identified his father. Rob O’Connor, who trains horses at Churchill, said in a brief telephone interview that the body was found in a barn he shares but declined to comment further because the investigation is ongoing.
While no Derby horses were in Barn No. 8, it is four away — about 150 yards — from where this year’s winner, I’ll Have Another, was stabled leading up to the race. The Churchill backside includes 48 barns and workers’ dormitories, and some employees of individual trainers live in tack rooms in the barns. To work on the backside, workers must be licensed by the horse racing commission, Asher said. News of the death had become the top story on espn.com by midafternoon Sunday. Fox News’ website declared: “Death at the Derby.” Police said Perez’s death does not appear to be linked to the Derby. The death was the second on the Churchill backside in about a year. Shortly after last year’s Derby, 24-year-old jockey Michael Baze was found dead in his car after what was ruled an accidental drug overdose.