Edgardo Perez Sought For 2001 Murder Of Gordon Machek; Suspect Fled
Investigators think Perez may be in Mexico as the hunt for justice continues.
FARMINGTON HILLS, MI — Some time around October 20, 2001, police believe 19-year-old Edgardo “Eddie” Perez murdered Gordon Machek, 55, in the older man’s home.
Investigators also allege that Perez stole Machek’s credit cards, attempted to empty the victim’s investment accounts, and used the funds he could drain to go on the run.
To date, Machek’s body has never been found — and neither has Perez, who authorities believe escaped to Mexico and may now be overseas.
THE ARTFUL LIFE OF GORDON MACHEK
From his early childhood in the Detroit area onward, Gordon Machek dazzled everyone in his life with his ability to draw, paint, sculpt, and otherwise master a vast array of artistic endeavors.
In addition, Machek’s constant creativity proved extra impressive as he suffered from a degenerative eye condition that frequently pushed him to the brink of blindness.
By the time he turned 30, Machek was on the rise as an industrial designer at Chrysler. During that period, Machek met and fell in love with Jim Johnson. It was the late 1960s, which was still not a safe time for gay men to come out or live openly. Regardless, Machek and Johnson proudly bought a home in the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills, where they are still warmly remembered by neighbors.
Susan Macri, a friend who lived nearby, told In Pursuit With John Walsh, “They'd come here for barbecues, come for [our daughter]’s birthday party. We'd go over there to just watch the firework show. We were like family.”
As the years passed, Machek’s eyesight grew worse. By 2001, Machek had worked for Chrysler long enough that he was able to retire at age 55. He and Johnson made plans to relocate to Florida. Machek even began designing them a home with a studio inside it so he could keep creating and construction got swiftly underway.
EDDIE ENTERS THE PICTURE & TRAGEDY FOLLOWS
In Fall 2001, Johnson flew to Florida to oversee the building of their new residence. On October 20, Machek wrapped up a phone conversation with Johnson by saying he was heading out for a bike ride with a guy he met at the gym named “Eddie.”
That would be the last time that Johnson — or anyone — ever heard from Gordon Machek.
The following day, Johnson feared the worst as Machek’s phone seemed to be out of service and he wasn’t returning any other messages. Two days later, Machek’s credit card company contacted Johnson to inquire about unusual charges being rung up, first in Michigan and then in Mexico. Machek, of course, had not mentioned any plans of traveling south of the border.
Johnson knew then that something horrible had happened. He contacted Susan Luce, Machek’s cousin, to go check on the house. Luce promptly dropped by the property and reported that Machek wasn’t there.
In addition, Machek’s car was in the driveway, and his clothing and suitcases remained in the closet, indicating he hadn’t taken any sudden trip.
The final clue that something was terribly awry, however, was in the refrigerator. In recalling the moment, Luce told In Pursuit, "Jim said to me, 'Sue, open the fridge door. There should be a little bottle of Gordon's medicine on the right-hand side.'"
THE TRUNK AND THE RUG
Jim Johnson immediately flew back to Michigan. Upon landing, friends Susan and Vic Macri joined him in scouring the house for clues.
The first item Johnson noticed missing was a large, pirate-style trunk that had been in the basement. It was the trunk into which Machek’s parent had packed all their worldly belongings after being exiled from Czechoslovakia. It was a treasure that meant the world to Machek, and he wouldn't let it go willingly to anyone.
Johnson also noticed that the basement rug had been cut in a sloppy fashion. As Vic Macri recalls, "When Jim saw the carpet, the way it was cut out, he knew that it wasn't due to Gordon. Gordon was a perfectionist and he would've taken a ruler, a long straight edge, with an X-Acto knife, and it would've been a perfect square."
In short order, police took over the premises and evidence teams went to work.
Farmington Hills Police Sergeant Richard Wehby told In Pursuit, “There were stains — suspicious stains — on the carpet where it looks like something had been cleaned. There were some small, minuscule splatters that appear to be on the wall; you had to look very closely to notice. With the use of Luminol and alternative lighting we were able to see a large area of blood had to be cleaned up off the floor."
In time, the spatters would be matched to Machek. Drag marks from the basement into the garage also indicated the trunk had been pulled along the floor.
Police heard a tape of someone calling Machek’s stock account and attempting to withdraw $200,000. The voice on that tape was clearly not Machek.
THE TRUTH ABOUT EDDIE
Investigators looked into a number written in Machek’s day planner and traced it to Edgardo Perez. It’s believed he was the bike riding “Eddie” to which Machek had referred before vanishing.
Although just 19 years old, Perez had a long criminal history that included arrests for assault, impersonating a police officer, and domestic abuse. Perez was also supposed to be in court for a probation violation four days after Machek went missing. Obviously, he was a no-show.
Wehby said Perez was living with his parents and attended the University of Michigan in Dearborn. After talking to Perez’s mother and father, Wehby said, "The last time they saw him, they knew that he was to appear in court and he was scared to go to jail, so he probably ran to avoid going to jail in this violation of probation."
Wehby said a search of Perez’s residence turned up "numerous books referencing how to create new identities, how to avoid capture." Detectives also found machines used to create fake credit cards and IDs.
THE INVESTIGATION DEEPENS
Webby further told In Pursuit, "Edgardo Perez also has a membership at the same gym that Gordon (Machek) attended. I think that he used the gym as an area to find a victim. He also had made reference to gay men or older men because they were easy targets.”
Police contacted Perez’s girlfriend, but Wehby said, "She was aware of the credit cards that belonged to the victim, but not of anything else."
Investigators tracked Perez’s progress through the use of Machek’s stolen credit cards. They believe Perez assumed Machek’s identity, purchased a plane ticket from Michigan to California, and then escaped below the border.
FBI Special Agent Dave Kotel told In Pursuit, "We were able to track him right to the hotel in Mexico where he was. Unfortunately, he was gone."
Authorities have concluded that with the amount of blood and evidence found in the home, Machek was likely murdered, and the perpetrator was likely Perez.
As Wehby added, “[Perez] talked about things to do in order to get money from robbery to torturing people to get their information on how to get into their financials to getting rid of a body. The nature of this guy is just scary. The meticulous planning, the cover-up, the lofty goals of driving someone's investment accounts.”
Even though Machek’s body, to date, has still not been located, Edgardo Perez has been charged with felony murder.
Compounding the tragedy, Jim Johnson died from a stroke in 2005.
THE SEARCH FOR EDDIE PEREZ
Investigators say it's possible Perez is working out at a gym in Mexico. As far as they know, he does not have any tattoos, but that may have changed in the past 18 years.
He was last seen south of the border with an older man, who authorities have not been able to identify.
Authorities in Farmington Hills say it's possible Perez is hiding out in Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, or even the United States.
As for the missing steamer trunk, police say it is black in color and it is similar to a pirate's chest. The size is: 2 x 4 x 3 with metal straps, handles, and a pull out wooden tray.
Lita Luce, Machek’s cousin, holds out hope, noting, "If they can find Bin Laden, surely we can find Eddie Perez."
TRAITS & CHARACTERISTICS:
- Weight: 140 pounds
- Height: 5 feet 6 inches
- Sex: Male
- Race: Hispanic
- Hair: Black
- Eyes: Brown
- Date of birth: May 19, 1982
- No known tattoos or birthmarks
- Physically fit, was previously a weightlifter
- Seen on surveillance video at Detroit airport boarding a flight to San Diego
If you know anything about this case, please contact our hotline (833-3-PURSUE) or submit a tip online.
For more on this case, watch the “Stolen Life” episode of In Pursuit With John Walsh on Wednesday, April 3 at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery! Or catch up on ID GO.