“In this case we have multiple gang members working together in concert to plan and execute the murder,” Montgomery County homicide detective Eric Glass wrote in court records.
Montgomery detectives began investigating the afternoon of Nov. 29 after a passerby called 911 to report a body in a wooded area just off the Route 109 exit of Interstate 270, near the border of Frederick County, police said.
“This location is very remote and consists largely of forest,” detectives said in court papers. “Evidence at the scene where the victim was found suggests that she was shot and killed at this location.”
Police identified the victim as Sara Gutierrez-Villatoro and linked her to two residences in the District, each roughly an hour’s drive from where her body was found.
Police charged four people with first-degree murder: Jonathan “Sniper” Rivera-Escobar, 19; Geovany “Perverso” Dominguez-Escobar, 24; Jordan “Joker” Moreno, 21; and Rigoberto “Crazy” Machado, 16. Rivera-Escobar is from Silver Spring, and the others are from the District. Machado was charged as an adult, police said.
Gutierrez-Villatoro had been in a relationship with an 18th Street gang member but at some point was accused by the gang of betrayal, according to court records. Two ranking members of the gang — identified by police as Moreno and Dominguez-Escobar — “greenlighted” the murder of Gutierrez-Villatoro on Oct. 30, detectives alleged in charging papers.
The documents do not describe the alleged betrayal.
Investigators learned that on that same day, eight members of 18th Street were in the 600 block of Longfellow Street NW, near a location the victim was known to reside, court documents state. They also learned that three weeks later, 18th Street gang members were spotted about a mile from a different D.C. residence where the victim had lived and were looking for a woman they intended to kill, court records state.
It was not clear, from court records, when or how the victim had gotten to the wooded area of Montgomery County. Detectives allege she was probably shot there by at least two of the suspects, court records state.
Gutierrez-Villatoro had been reported missing 10 times from 2017 through 2019, according to a D.C. police spokeswoman.
The last time she was reported missing from the District was Jan. 4 and she was found unharmed the next day, police said. D.C. police said she had not been reported missing in the time period leading up her killing.
The 18th Street gang, with roots in Los Angeles, has strong ties to Central America and is a bitter rival of the MS-13 gang. Both gangs have for years operated “cliques” in the Washington metro area.
Court papers in the recent murder case describe 18th Street members operating specifically in the District, where police have charged Dominguez-Escobar recently with possessing handguns.