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27 missing hours key to finding Duluth man's killer

Darinel “Dany” Martinez Lopez

Darinel “Dany” Martinez Lopez

DULUTH — For 27 hours, Darinel “Dany” Martinez Lopez was gone, his whereabouts and actions unknown to his family. Those 27 hours are the key to finding his killer.

Gwinnett County police officially called Lopez’s death a homicide on Thursday, the cause of death ruled blunt force trauma. Authorities believe Lopez, a 26-year-old Hispanic male, was beaten to death before being found in a wooded area near his Duluth apartment complex Sunday afternoon.

Other than that, police aren’t sure what may have happened. They’re asking for anyone with information to come forward.

Cpl. Jake Smith said Thursday that Lopez was last seen by his family — the mother and siblings he lived with at The Falls apartments on Satellite Blvd. — at noon on Saturday. At about 3 p.m. the next day, he was found in a wooded area outside another nearby complex, the Bella Vista apartments.

Investigators aren’t sure if Lopez was killed where he was found or moved there postmortem.

“Detectives need to speak with anyone who may have information in this case,” Smith said, “particularly anyone who may have encountered Martinez during the 27 hours before his body was discovered.”

Those able to help can call Gwinnett County police detectives at 770-513-5300, or remain anonymous via CrimeStoppers by calling 404-577-TIPS or visiting crimestoppersatlanta.org.

Smith said police do not believe Lopez was involved in any type of gang activity. Lopez did not appear to have a criminal record.