D.C. man arrested in death of woman at Md. hotel; police said he agreed to pay for sex

Prince George’s County police arrested a Northeast Washington man Friday in connection with the shooting death of a woman whose body was found in a College Park motel room, authorities said.

Vaughn Darvell Bellamy, 23, was charged with first- and second-degree murder along with a gun violation, police said. Police also arrested Barry Foxx, 24, of Temple Hills after he allegedly attempted to help Bellamy flee from law enforcement.

About 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, police went to the Ramada Limited on Baltimore Avenue after an employee found the body of Catina Cortes, 25, in a room.

Bellamy arranged to meet Cortes at the motel and pay her for sex, police said. Phone records indicate that Bellamy was the last person to contact her, and he later made statements to police “implicating his involvement,” said Maj. Cesar Pacheco., commander of the county’s Criminal Investigations Division. Sometime during Bellamy and Cortes’s meeting, Cortes was shot in the upper body. The motive was unclear.

Sgt. Dave Coleman, head of the county’s vice intelligence unit, said that Cortes had advertised herself on Backpage.com, but police said they do not know how the two arranged to meet.

“This is a tragic reminder of the dangers of the sex trade,” Coleman said.

Cortes, from Far Rockaway, N.Y., had told her mother, Diane Cortes, that she was visiting friends in Maryland for the week.

Diane Cortes, 49, said her daughter had an aunt in Maryland whom she would often visit. During her stays, she starting hanging out with the wrong group of friends, her mother said. She would often defend those friends, saying, “They’re just less fortunate” and “You can’t judge them,” Diane Cortes said earlier this week.

“She was always just looking for a way to fit in,” said Diane Cortes. “She loved her friends regardless of whatever they were.”

Court records show that Catina Cortes was arrested on several prostitution charges last year after an undercover police officer answered a Backpage.com ad for a “Mz. Peachez Cake.” When police arrived at a motel in Beltsville, “Mz. Peachez” turned out to be Cortes, according to charging documents. The undercover officer set down $120 for 30 minutes, and police arrested her shortly after. Cortes was found guilty of one count of prostitution.

Diane Cortes said that her daughter wasn’t always “an angel” but that she had recently returned to New York to turn her life around. “I can’t condone anything she did that wasn’t right,” she said. “I think she was forced to do it.”

Cortes loved to dance and spend time with her family, her mother said. She said that on her daughter’s birthday recently, Catina gave her a necklace that says “Mom.”

“She said, ‘I bought this for you for my birthday because you’re my birthday gift,’ ” Diane Cortes recalled her daughter telling her. “She was a good girl.”

Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

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Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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