The MS-13 gang members who lured a man to his death in Wheaton Regional Park earlier this year arrived at the scene with knives, at least one shovel and a machete that they used to hack off the victim's body parts, according to new records and a hearing held Friday in Montgomery County District Court.
"This crime is abhorrent," Assistant State's Attorney Ashley Inderfurth told a judge, arguing that one of the new defendants in the case, Albaro Armando Rosa-Moreno, 22, should be held in jail on no-bond status. "It goes without saying that this person presents a significant danger to our community," she added.
Judge Holly D. Reed III ordered Rosa-Moreno held without bond.
The victim, who has not been identified, was found in September, buried in a secluded area of Wheaton Regional Park, a 536-acre expanse of woods, trails, ballfields, playgrounds and a carousel. The man had been decapitated and stabbed more than 100 times, and his heart had been ripped out, according to court records.
Detectives suspect that as many as 10 MS-13 members were involved in planning the crime, digging the grave, luring the victim to the park, communicating over walkie-talkies as he arrived and then attacking him. On Nov. 11, they made their first arrest in the case. This week, they charged two more suspects with first-degree murder: Rosa-Moreno as well as Doris Esmeralda Giron-Jimenez, 24. She is due in court Monday.
The case so far against the three defendants, according to the early court filings, appears to be largely built on the account of a confidential informant, who is listed as "INF" in arrest warrants. The filings describe the informant as credible — someone who was able to show them exactly where the remains were.
In detectives' arrest warrant for Giron-Jimenez, they described her role as a driver. She took three MS-13 members to the park — taking two trips to do so, first arriving with two people and then going back for a third, according to the court records. "It is worth noting that, according to INF, these three participants brought knives and a shovel," detectives wrote in charging documents.
After the killing, detectives allege, the three people who had been driven to the park by Giron-Jimenez contacted her to get them. She picked up the three, who "had in their possession a bag containing the shovel and the murder weapons," detectives asserted.
The three were driven to a hotel in the Takoma Park area, where they met up with others who took part in the killing, according to police.
Court records do not say whether Giron-Jimenez has retained an attorney.
In court Friday — for the hearing for Rosa-Moreno — Assistant Public Defender John Lavigne asked the judge to set a jail bond for his client.
"Granted that the things that the state's attorney told you are quite bad," Lavigne said, "but the reason, at this point, that they know about these things is because some unidentified person named INF told them he was involved."
Lavigne described the investigation as "a work in process" and noted that his client lives with his mother and two younger brothers and has a job. "He was arrested on his way to work," Lavigne said.
Inderfurth, the prosecutor, countered that Rosa-Moreno had participated in digging the grave ahead of time and stabbing the victim. She also noted the brutality inflicted on the victim. "His heart was ripped out of his chest and thrown into the grave," she said.
Police say the victim may have been from the Annapolis area. They described him as Hispanic, about 5-foot-2 and weighing 126 pounds. At the time of the killing, the victim wore a gray sweatshirt with "First United Methodist Church Laurel" on the upper left side. A rosary or necklace was also found with his body, said police, who had previously distributed photos of the victim's sweatshirt and muddied blue shorts in an effort to identify his remains.
The first suspect who was arrested, Miguel Lopez-Abrego, a citizen of El Salvador, is in the United States illegally and is in immigration proceedings, according to officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The immigration status of the two new suspects was unclear Friday.