Six Suspected Gang Members Charged With Murder in Montgomery County Stabbing
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Six suspected gang members, including one who recently escaped a Salvadoran prison and fled to Maryland, were in custody yesterday in connection with the slaying of a 15-year-old who was stabbed approximately 72 times and thrown into a Gaithersburg creek five months ago, Montgomery County prosecutors and police said.
Immediately after the stabbing, one of the suspects went to a grocery store to buy a celebratory beer, police said in charging documents made public yesterday. The suspect then returned to his kitchen a knife used in the killing, and he and his roommate later used it to prepare food, according to the documents.
The six suspects are members of the 18th Street gang or are associated with the gang, authorities said. On the night of Jan. 18 -- a number significant to the gang's culture -- at least four of them went looking for a member of rival gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, to harm, police said. They spotted Dennys Guzman-Saenz at a bus stop in Langley Park and dragged him into the back seat of a vehicle. At least one of the suspects began stabbing Guzman-Saenz on the way to the park. At the park, one of the suspects told investigators, the car was met by accomplices wearing ski masks.
The six suspects were arrested during the past several days and were being held yesterday.
The investigation began the morning of Jan. 19, after a man walking through Malcolm King Park in Gaithersburg saw a body at the creek edge. Detectives found a trail of blood along a path leading away from the creek and used DNA testing to show the blood did not come from the victim, according to charging documents.
Detectives subsequently learned that someone named Jhony was bragging that he had "butchered the guy" who was thrown into the water, according to the documents. Detectives learned that Jhony was a member of the 18th Street gang and had several missing upper teeth and a distinctive tattoo across his stomach: "clone" or something similar.
Investigators learned the identities of Jhony's associates and began tracking them. On Thursday, officers saw some of the associates get into a red Honda Prelude. Police said one of those passengers turned out to be Jhony, who soon was in custody.
Charging papers say a detective showed Jhony a picture of the victim, Guzman-Saenz, and Jhony eventually identified his roommate at the time of the stabbing as the man who killed Guzman-Saenz. Jhony said his roommate, David Antonio Lozano, who went by the nickname Bulldog, told him that others had kidnapped Guzman-Saenz and wanted to give him to Lozano as a "present." Jhony and Bulldog subsequently used a knife from the killing to prepare food, the documents say.
Police noted that Jhony had a tattoo on his stomach that read "The Clon." His real name turned out to be Joel Yonathan Ventura Quintanilla, and he told police he had been arrested in El Salvador for homicide and gun trafficking but had escaped from Cojutepeque Prison on Aug. 8. Investigators were able to verify the escape with Salvadorian authorities.
Detectives think two suspects associated with the 18th Street gang abducted Guzman-Saenz by approaching him at the bus stop and acting as if they were MS-13 members. The abductors thought Guzman-Saenz was an MS-13 member. A police spokeswoman said that Guzman-Saenz, who had just turned 15, hadn't been "jumped into the gang" but that he did associate with known members.
Charged with first-degree murder in the case are Ventura-Quintanilla, 22, of no fixed address; Lozano, 32, of Germantown; Ysaud Flores, 30, of Gaithersburg; Ana Abarca, 18, of Reston; Daniel A. Zavala, 26, of the District; and Silvia Martinez, 19, of the District. Police said last night that an additional suspect, a 28-year-old from Bladensburg whom they did not identify, had been taken into custody. Police did not say whether he was affiliated with a gang.
Police were searching for others thought to be involved in the stabbing.