A Fairfax County man wanted on a murder charge, and who police feared might have fled to El Salvador, was identified this week in Durham, N.C., after having been arrested after a shootout with police in June.
Fidel Angel Coreas, 39, is charged with the July 2000 slaying of Mariza Segovia, 36, whose body was found lying in the doorway of Segovia's apartment in the Falls Church Gardens Apartments. Coreas, who worked as a cook at a nearby restaurant on Lee Highway, disappeared once police declared the shooting a homicide and focused on him as a suspect.
Coreas is a Salvadoran native, and Fairfax detectives said they suspected he would join what had become a daunting list: Eight other murder suspects from Fairfax already had fled to El Salvador, which did not allow extradition of its citizens to other countries. Accompanied by a television news crew, then-homicide Detective Richard Perez traveled to El Salvador and spoke with two of the fugitives on camera. The men then calmly returned to their lives, and Perez returned to Fairfax empty-handed.
But just two weeks before Segovia's slaying, spurred in part by media pressure from stories such as Perez's, the Salvadoran General Assembly ratified a constitutional amendment allowing extradition of criminal suspects. However, the extradition amendment was not scheduled to take effect until July 18, 2000. Segovia was killed July 17, 2000.
It was unclear whether Coreas could be extradited if he were found in El Salvador. Perez retired from the police department that fall, and Coreas's case was assigned to the cold case unit.
Fairfax police do not know whether Coreas actually went to El Salvador. But cold case detectives Steve Milefsky and Robert Murphy got a tip that he was living in the Durham area, and they contacted Durham's homicide unit, providing photos and information about Coreas.
Then, early on June 20, Durham patrol officers were dispatched to a loud party at the Colonial Apartments. When they arrived, according to a Durham police news release, people were standing on the front steps and the door was open. As officers approached the door, a man sitting on a sofa fired three times at them, Durham police said.
The officers took cover as the gunman ran, but police said the man fired at them again. The officers returned fire and wounded the man in the upper right thigh. Durham police said he identified himself as 44-year-old Jose Angel Morales. After treatment at Duke University Hospital, he was taken to the Durham County jail, charged with three counts of assault with a gun on a police officer. Durham police officials did not return a call yesterday seeking comment.
While Durham police were investigating the case, a detective apparently recognized Morales as being the man wanted as Coreas in Fairfax. The detective called Fairfax, and Milefsky and Murphy traveled to Durham this week and identified Coreas on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Perez, the original detective on the case, has come out of retirement, rejoined the Fairfax police and been promoted to sergeant. He is now a department spokesman.
"These cases can be frustrating, to the detective, the department, not to mention the family members," Perez said yesterday. "But now we're able to go to [Segovia's] family and say we are bringing closure to this case. We never shelved it, and we never forgot about it."
Prosecutors in Durham and Fairfax will negotiate who will be the first to try Coreas. Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. typically does not demand that a jurisdiction hand over a suspect before disposing of its own charges. Horan did not return a call yesterday seeking comment.