Derby murder remains unsolved after nearly a year


by Adam Walser

Posted on April 26, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 26 at 5:41 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The Kentucky Derby is just over a week away, but the anniversary of an unsolved murder at Churchill Downs is also approaching.

It happened overnight after last year's race. Forty-eight-year-old Adan Perez was found dead in a barn the day after Derby. His body was identified by his 19-year-old son, who also worked at the track.

Nearly a year later, still no arrest and there are few clues in this unsolved murder.

Perez, a groomsman from Guatemala, was found murdered in barn number 8 by his son, Wilson. His son was also the last person known to talk to him before the homicide. He son said Perez spent the hours after the Derby playing cards and socializing with other backside workers.

Churchill Downs Backside Activities Director Frank Agrinsoni said people still wonder exactly what led to Perez's death.

“We haven't had any new developments. People are a little nervous, because it's unsolved,” Agrinsoni said.

Jose Neil Donis covered the murder for Al Dia En America, a Spanish language newspaper he publishes.

He said in the days after the crime, it was impossible to get cooperation from potential witnesses. Many are other Guatemalan immigrants, who don't trust police and fear deportation.

“No one could get into their circle of trust,” Donis said. “I tried, but it didn’t work.”

While police have few new leads, rumors continue to point to Perez being robbed by someone he knew.

“The gentleman was known to carry large amounts of money, didn't trust a bank,” Agrinsoni said.

Many workers travel from track to track and that makes it difficult to find witnesses.

“Probably this person already left a long time ago, probably the next day, he left,” Donis said.

Police said they hope more information can help them get a break in the case. If you know anything, you can report it anonymously by calling the tip line at 502-574-LMPD.