|Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler speaks at a news conference on the murder of Damaris Alexandra Reyes Rivas. To the left are law enforcement leaders from other jurisdictions. [FCPD]|
The murder of 15-year-old Damaris Alexandra Reyes Rivas was a “savage and brutal killing. It was horrific,” said Fairfax County Police Chief Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr. at a news conference Feb. 16 broadcast on Facebook.
Five suspects have been charged with murder, including two adults and three teenagers.
According to the FCPD, Reyes Rivas was held against her will, taken to Lake Accotink Park, and assaulted before she was killed and left nearby in the 7100 block of Wimsatt Road in Springfield. Detectives believe the murder occurred on or around Jan. 8. Reyes Rivas, a resident of Gaithersburg, Md., had been reported missing on Dec. 10, 2016.
Her body was found on Feb. 11. An autopsy conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said she suffered trauma to the upper body and ruled the death a homicide.
Detectives have obtained charges against these suspects for the death of Reyes Rivas:
• Jose Ivan Castillo Rivas, 18, of the 5800 block of Brunswick St., Springfield
• Wilmer A. Sanchez-Serrano, 21, of no fixed address
• A 17-year-old Alexandria-area girl
• Two 17-year-old boys; one of Annandale, the other of Springfield.
Sanchez-Serrano and Castillo Rivas were also charged with abduction and gang participation, as were Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 18, of the 11900 block of Winterthur Lane, Reston, and Aldair J. Miranda Carcamo, 18, of the 7000 block of Skyles Way, Springfield.
Seven teenagers have also been charged with abduction and gang participation. One of them, a 16-year-old girl, is still outstanding. The other teens are a 15-year-old girl, 16-year-old girl, 16-year-old boy, two 17-year-old boys, and a 17-year-old girl.
Representatives of several law enforcement agencies that worked with FCPD on the case appeared at the news briefing, including the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, Prince William County Police, the FBI’s Washington field office, and Homeland Security Investigations.
According to Roessler, an intelligence briefing with the Prince William County Police Department led to information linking two juveniles from Fairfax County to the murder of Reyes Rivas.
FCPD then teamed up with detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department and discovered video evidence showing the teen was murdered at Lake Accotink Park. “The video led us to issue five murder warrants,” Roessler said.
It’s the FCPD’s policy not to provide the names of juveniles arrested for crimes, and Roessler declined to identify the name of the gang linked to the case, although others have reported that it is MS-13.
Roessler also declined to provide details on whether this case is linked to the murder of Christian Alexander Sosa of Fairfax County. His body was discovered in Prince William County Jan. 12. His girlfriend, Venus Lorena Romero Iraheta, 17, of Beauregard Street in Alexandria, had been missing for a month and returned home on Feb. 14 and is in custody. According to news reports, both she and Reyes Rivas were involved with gangs.
Gang activity in the region is on the rise, as is gang recruiting at middle and high schools, said Jay Lanham, director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force.
“Gangs recruit juveniles who are vulnerable and who are looking for a better way of life,” Lanham said, and youths join because “they want protection and security.”
“It’s very dangerous for people who want to leave a gang. They face the threat of death or physical injury,” he said.
“Gang crime knows no boundaries,” Roessler said, noting law enforcement agencies across the region need to team up to deal with gang violence. “There’s a lot of crime in our communities that goes undetected. We need parents to be on the lookout.”
The FBI has an anti-gang unit in El Salvador to identify threats from Central America, said Kevin Donovan, a spokesperson with the FBI’s Washington field office. “Much of what they do is funded through extortion. That is a big part of our investigations.”
Donovan said transnational crimes are on the rise in the U.S. and abroad.