Montgomery County Police have made three more arrests in connection with the murder of Jordy Mejia; the 22-year-old whose body was found in a shallow grave off Game Preserve Road in November. Police are also reporting that Mejia was lured to Germantown from New Jersey, and was later killed. Police believe that the killing and all five suspects are associated with the MS-13 gang.
On Tuesday, police arrested and charged two teenagers, Neris Moreno, 19, of West New York, NJ, and Jackelin Leiba-Esperanza, 16, of Brentwood, MD, in Silver Spring on the strength of Montgomery County arrest warrants. They were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and are being held without bond. Leiba-Esperanza has been charged as an adult.
On Thursday, police announced that three additional suspects, Reynaldo A Granados-Vasquez, 21, of Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg, Jose Israel Melendez-Rivera, 18, of Lost Knife Circle in Montgomery Village, and Katerine Solorzano-Aparicio, 17, of Hyattsville, were arrested in Montgomery County on the strength of arrest warrants. They were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Solorzano-Aparicio is a student at Watkins Mill High School, according to the Washington Post. She has been charged as an adult.
An investigation by detectives has revealed that on October 15, 2016, the victim, Mejia, told his mother that he was traveling from their home in New Jersey to Maryland to meet a female that he had met on Facebook and would return the next day. On October 18, Mejia’s mother became concerned when the victim did not return home nor had he contacted her. She filed a missing person report with the local police department in New Jersey.
Mejia’s mother was able to access her son’s Facebook account and discovered a long conversation between her son and what investigators now know was a fictitious female. The investigation has revealed that several of the suspects communicated with the victim using the fake Facebook account.
According to police, this Facebook conversation revealed that the fictitious female lured Mejia to the Germantown area, saying that she wanted to meet him. He was picked up by Solorzano-Aparicio and her boyfriend, Jose Melendez-Rivera. Mejia arrived in Montgomery County, where he was driven to a wooded area, killed and buried in a shallow grave.
Police have not released how they think Mejia was killed. Given the condition of the Mejia’s remains when they were found in November, investigators may not know with certain how he was murdered, according to the Post.
The Washington Post is reporting that investigators were able to identify the decomposing body of Jordy Mejia as a result of the images of the victim’s shirt and shoes which police released to the media.
All four suspects, who have had bond hearings, are being held without bail due to a high risk of flight as a result of flight. Granados-Vasquez is scheduled to have a bond review on Friday. Three of the five suspects are in the United States illegally, and one of the other suspects has an immigration detainer filed against him, the Post reported.
The wooded area where Mejia’s body was found is part of the Great Seneca Creek Park, which creates a natural border between Germantown and Gaithersburg. Game Preserve Road runs through that portion of the woodlands.
In August of 2015, hunters discovered another male body in a shallow grave in a different wooded area of the parkland about three miles north in Great Seneca Stream Valley Park off Germantown Road. In December 2015, four suspected members of the MS-13 street gang were arrested in connection with that murder.
In August of 2015, the body of Vargas-Osorio was found just off the Greenway Trail, approximately 200 yards from Watkins Mill Road/Germantown Road. The human remains were found by individuals participating in a managed deer hunt in the park. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore ruled this death a homicide due to trauma to the upper torso of the victim the results of multiple sharp instrument stab wounds.
Those four suspects in that case were Luis F. Avelar Morales, 18, of Girard Street in Gaithersburg, Daniel Adonai Ramos, 19, of Lost Knife Circle in Montgomery Village, Edwin E. Reyes-Martinez, 18, of the unit block of Whetstone Drive in Gaithersburg, and Juan Espinal Rapalo, 18, of Summit Avenue in Gaithersburg. They were charged with first-degree murder.