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Drifter Sought in Death of Mom

November 12, 1997

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ A drifter who authorities said left a trail of evidence from Florida to Texas was being sought today in the shooting death of a woman whose 23-month-old quadruplets were found crawling in her blood.

Jose Luis Del Toro Jr., 21, was named in a first-degree murder warrant obtained by Sarasota County sheriff’s officers in the death of Sheila Bellush.

Sheriff’s investigators believe Del Toro is in the Austin, Texas, area. They asked police there and the Texas Rangers to help catch him.

Investigators said they found Del Toro’s fingerprints on a clothes dryer in the victim’s home after the killing Friday. The alleged murder weapon _ a .45-caliber gun _ was found in Del Toro’s car, which was discovered in Texas.

``There’s loads of physical evidence. We know he did it. We have to get him to get the why,″ said Sarasota County sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Carney. ``We want to catch this guy. It’s heart wrenching when you think about the children.″

The body of the 35-year-old mother of six was discovered by Stevie, her 13-year-old daughter. The four toddlers were nearby, unharmed but covered in blood. They wore life jackets, which their mother frequently put on them when they were going outside where the family had a swimming pool.

Officials said she apparently confronted the suspect as he came into the laundry room from the garage.

Detectives have not interviewed Mrs. Bellush’s ex-husband, Allen Blackthorne, a San Antonio medical equipment manager, said his lawyer, Roy Barrera Jr. Asked if his client knows Del Toro, Barrera said he didn’t know.

Barrera said Florida police told him his client was not a suspect.

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