MS-13 gangsters stabbed man 100 times, decapitated him and cut out his heart, Maryland police say
As many as 10 members of the MS-13 street gang lured a man into a park in Wheaton, Maryland, spoke with one another over walkie-talkies as he arrived, stabbed him more than 100 times, decapitated him and then cut out his heart, according to police documents made public Wednesday in Montgomery County District Court.
The first alleged attacker to be arrested, Miguel “Timido” Angel Lopez-Abrego, 19, was charged with first-degree murder and held in jail after a brief hearing Wednesday.
“He is noted as being the first individual to thrust a knife in the chest of the decedent,” Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly McGann said in court. Police continue to search for other suspects.
Police found the body buried in a grave, deep in the woods of Wheaton Regional Park, that the attackers dug before the slaying, according to court records. Authorities have not been able to identify the victim, who they believe may have been from Annapolis. He was wearing a sweatshirt, and those who knew him would have noticed he was missing a lower tooth near the front of his mouth, police said.
The investigation began in early September, when detectives spoke to an informant who said he knew of an MS-13 murder that occurred in the spring of this year in the park. The informant led detectives to the grave site, according to court records. The remains were exhumed and examined by the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office.
“The victim had been stabbed over one hundred times, decapitated, dismembered, and his heart had been excised from his chest and thrown into the grave,” detectives wrote in court papers.
Although the victim’s identity was unknown, Montgomery detectives developed Lopez-Abrego as a suspect.
On September 29, patrol officers stopped a car driven by another MS-13 member in which Lopez-Abrego was a passenger. Detectives interviewed Lopez-Abrego, but he denied any involvement in the park murder, the court records state.
Montgomery police tried to find Lopez-Abrego after that interview but couldn’t find him.
Law enforcement, looking for a different MS-13 suspect from Maryland – Milton Portillo-Rodriguez, accused of a murder in Anne Arundel County – tracked that man to Avery County, North Carolina.
On November 4, a group of about 10 agents from the US Marshals Service and the local sheriff’s office arrived at a condominium, Avery County Sheriff Kevin Frye said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
A person – but not the suspect – answered the door. The deputies and agents found Portillo-Rodriguez, Lopez-Abrego and a third MS-13 member attempting to hide inside, Frye said.
The third suspect is accused in a different attack at the same Wheaton park.
In that incident, as many as 15 assailants surrounded two victims, punching them, kicking them and striking them with large tree limbs, according to arrest records.
The victims were treated in hospital and survived.
The charging documents do not cite a motive in the slaying in the park, but investigators believe that the suspects had planned to carry it out for about two weeks.
They also alleged that Lopez-Abrego helped dig the grave and “waited near the edge of the wood line with a hand-held walkie-talkie radio to alert the other suspects of the victim’s arrival.” He used a 40cm knife in the attack, according to police.
Investigators said the victim was a Hispanic man, about 5-foot-2 and weighing 126 pounds. He had short, dark brown hair.