In February 2010, Elgin taxi driver Amilkar Caro gunned down a 28-year-old hotel chef who Caro believed was courting his ex-girlfriend, according to police and court records.
There were several witnesses, including the ex-girlfriend, Alexis Cruz, but Caro fled before he was arrested and made his way to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he stayed with family, and then he apparently crossed into Mexico near the town of Laredo, authorities later determined.
The effort to track Caro foundered when police discovered a central fact about his life: his real name was Salvador Avila, but he had been using someone else's identity for years.
The Tribune tracked down the real Amilkar Caro, a career criminal who has served jail and penitentiary time for several violent felonies in Maryland and his native Puerto Rico. The real Amilkar Caro's ex-wife told reporters that Caro sold his identity through a middle man at least three times, making $2,000 per sale starting in 1999. She says he told her he provided the middle man with true, certified copies of his birth certificate and Social Security card — then got new documents by claiming that the originals had been lost or stolen.
In Elgin, 18-year-old dental assistant Alexis Cruz had dated and lived on and off with the fake Caro for about two years.
Although Avila had the word "Jalisco" — the Mexican state — tattooed in large Gothic letters across his back, he convinced Cruz and others that he was from Puerto Rico, as the real Caro's birth certificate and Social Security card said.
Avila had been using the Caro identity for at least a decade, Elgin traffic tickets examined by the Tribune show. But he was also arrested in Elgin under his real name, Salvador Avila, and under another fake identity, Javier Pena, during the 1990s, and has used several different birth dates, the Tribune found.
Cruz declined to comment; she was charged with obstruction of justice for initially lying to police about the involvement of Avila/Caro in the murder, and awaits trial.
Despite what authorities know about Avila's real identity, the charges against him are under the Caro name, and the FBI's current wanted poster shows a shadowy mug shot above the name "Amilkar A. Caro."