A 13-year-old and a 14-year-old accused of fatally stabbing a homeless man for cash have been charged with murder, the youngest homicide suspects arrested in Prince George's County this year and possibly the youngest since 2011.
Authorities on Thursday announced the arrest of the two teens in the slaying of Francisco Sagastizado, 47.
Elias Portillo, 14, of Adelphi, has been charged as an adult with first- and second-degree murder, according to Prince George’s County police. The 13-year-old boy, who police are not identifying because of his age, will be charged as a juvenile.
Department spokesman Cpl. Harry Bond said the teens are believed to be the youngest suspects arrested in a homicide by Prince George’s police in six years.
Sagastizado was discovered stabbed and dead in the woods in the 7800 block of West Park Drive in Adelphi on July 27, police said. Officers had been called to the area at about 8 a.m.
Sagastizado had been killed when he refused demands for money from the teens, one of whom knew him, police said.
On Thursday, Will Calderon sat next to a glowing memorial in a park not far from where Sagastizado died. The victim’s photo was tied around a wooden cross propped in front of a tree stump surrounded by flowers and melting candles, which his friends have been lighting since his death.
Calderon said his friend had come from El Salvador to the United States about 20 years ago. Sagastizado was an educated man, but personal setbacks left him living in the woods, Calderon said.
Despite his struggles, Sagastizado was a happy person who liked ranchera music and playing cards with buddies, Calderon said.
“I feel so bad for him,” he said. “He was a good friend. He was very respectful.”
The crime doesn’t appear to be gang-related or gang-motivated, said Cpl. Tyler Hunter, a spokesman for Prince George’s County police.
The slaying came during a particularly deadly month in the county.
Seventeen people died in homicides in July, with 12 occurring in the first 11 days. Some of the fatalities were cases of self-defense, and others stemmed from altercations between strangers who resorted to gunfire, Prince George’s police said. Police temporarily launched 12-hour patrol shifts in July to stem the violence.
According to police charging papers, the teens left Sagastizado’s body in a wood line 15 to 20 feet from a footpath.
The teens returned to the area almost three weeks later and were recognized and arrested, police said.
A Maryland-National Capital Park Police officer on Wednesday found someone who witnessed the stabbing, and during the interview, “the witness observed the two suspects walk by,” police said in charging documents.
The witness identified them as the teens he saw stabbing Sagastizado in July, the documents state.
Officers detained the teens.
According to the charging documents, the 13-year-old admitted he and Portillo were involved in the stabbing. The documents say Portillo denied his involvement.
Online records do not list an attorney for Portillo.
Portillo is in Prince George’s County jail and is expected to appear in court Friday for a bail review hearing.
The 13-year-old is being held in a Maryland youth detention facility.
Calderon and others have been bringing candles for the vigil daily for the friend they affectionately called “El Gusanito,” or “the Little Worm.”
As the candles melted and dripped down the tree stump, Calderon remembered the last words he said they shared as Sagastizado got set to go to sleep in a patch of grass with a log for his pillow.
“He said, ‘Don’t worry about me,’ ” Calderon recalled. “ ‘I'm going to be fine.’ ”
Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.