Homicide suspect arrives in D.C. from Argentina

October 1, 2011

A woman has been brought to Washington from 5,000 miles away to face charges in a fatal stabbing that occurred more than four years ago, D.C. police said last week.

The process by which the suspect was identified, taken into custody and brought to the District appeared to give new meaning to the old phrase about “the long arm of the law.”

Matters began on Jan. 8, 2007, when a 29-year-old woman was found slain in her home in the Kalorama Triangle area. On Friday, authorities said, the 46-year-old suspect was brought to D.C. police headquarters from Argentina. She is charged with first-degree murder, police said.

Over the years, a long sequence of events unfolded, involving D.C. police and authorities from Argentina, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and Interpol.

In a statement issued Friday, D.C. police said the victim was Gabriela Jose Lopez-Hernandez, who was a paralegal at a law firm at the time of her death.

Her employer said in 2007 that she was smart, professional and reserved, with family in Venezuela. He also recalled that she enjoyed taking tango lessons.

After finding the woman in her bathtub in the 1900 block of Columbia Road NW, investigators theorized that she died in a crime of passion. “Stabbings usually are,” an investigator said at the time.

In an interview Saturday, Capt. Michael Farish, head of the D.C. police homicide division, said investigators had learned of a relationship between the victim and the suspect, who was identified in the police statement as Blanca Emilee Ortiz.

Police also studied video footage of a woman leaving the victim’s apartment house, Farish said. But before a warrant could be obtained, Ortiz went to Argentina, he said.

It took time to find her, Farish said, but the woman was arrested in Argentina in February.

Extradition can be arduous, Farish said. But efforts to get Ortiz out of Argentina succeeded, and the journey to Washington began.

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