06/27/2013 08:20 EDT | Updated 08/27/2013 05:12 EDT

Mexican police make arrests in slaying of former Hamilton man

Mexican authorities say three teens have been arrested in connection to the June 16 slaying of former Hamilton landlord and businessman Ronald Burridge.

Mexican officials told CBC Hamilton that the suspects — aged 16, 17 and one younger than 16 — are being held in custody.

A fourth suspect who was wanted by police, believed to be in his early twenties, was wounded and then died after jumping off the roof of a three-storey building to escape officers. He was later found dead from his injuries.

Public Ministry of Police Comadante David Urtizo said all four males were known to Burridge and had access to his apartment in Acapulco. It's believed each may have stayed there at various times. Friends in Hamilton say Burridge lived in a four-storey villa and was looking to rent out rooms to generate income.

Burridge, who was known in Canada as Rev. Ron, was killed with a blunt object to the head. He was also stabbed with a broken bottle, said Dan Ward, a Hamilton businessman who was friends with Burridge since the mid-1980s.

Police said they recovered a Volkswagen car and a cellphone, among other items, that belonged to Burridge from the arrested men.

Urtizo has previously referred to Burridge’s slaying as a “crime of passion,” and not a robbery.

Once a hair colourist in Toronto, Burridge gained notoriety as a flamboyant, Bible-thumping landlord to the down and out in Hamilton. He held church services — and conducted exorcisms — in the Hotel Hamilton, a rooming house on James Street North he owned for more than 20 years.

Burridge, who was believed to be in his late 60s, ran Hotel Hamilton for more than two decades. He had been living full-time in Mexico for about three years, said Ward.

He said he had warned Burridge about the dangers of living in Mexico.

“That's where he was going to make his bed and breakfast. He wanted me to go down there and I said, 'It's too dangerous.'”

Burridge was a polarizing figure during his time in Hamilton. According to a 2009 article in the Hamilton Spectator, he was “outspoken about his dislike of Hamilton and what he considered the rampant problems on James Street North” and enraged the local BIA by holding rogue meetings in his hotel every month.

The hotel, which rented rooms to single men for $400 per month, was considered a dive, a reputation that Ward believes it didn't deserve.

“He ran a nice hotel down there. It's not what they said. But it was, you know, messy. He tried to help people on the streets, you know?”

Burridge sold the property in 2006 to Toronto developers. It changed hands again three years later and has since been turned into studios for artists.