A man arrested in the killing of Valerie Reyes told police he put her inside a suitcase after she fell to the floor and hit her head, court documents said.
The suspect, 24-year-old Javier Da Silva, was arrested Monday and is facing a kidnapping charge in connection with Reyes’ death, the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York said.
“While today’s arrest is certainly a welcome conclusion, it in no way alleviates the pain and suffering Valerie’s family will continue to feel for years to come. The reality of their situation is utterly unimaginable, as is the crime with which Da Silva is charged,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office.
Reyes, 24, had been missing for about a week when her body was found February 5 inside a suitcase in Greenwich, Connecticut. A group of highway workers who were on a routine sweep spotted the bag about 15 to 20 feet from a road.
The Connecticut chief medical examiner’s office has not yet released the cause and manner of Reyes’ death.
Da Silva, who remains in federal custody, briefly appeared in front of a federal magistrate in White Plains, New York. It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday whether he has an attorney.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said Da Silva, who is from Portugal, traveled to the US with a visa in 2017 but failed to leave the country “within the required time frame.”
Her hands were tied with string and tape, complaint says
The suspect told investigators that he and Reyes were having sex at her New Rochelle, New York, apartment on January 29 when “at some point she fell to the floor and hit her head,” prosecutors said in a federal complaint.
Da Silva then said he put packing tape over Reyes’ mouth, bound her legs and hands and put her in a suitcase that he later put in her car, the complaint said.
He drove away and drove for some time, the complaint said, until he left the suitcase in a forest.
Reyes was found barefoot, her shirt was unbuttoned and her hands were bound behind her back with a white string and packing tape, the complaint said.
Da Silva was Reyes’ former boyfriend, Lt. John Slusarz of the Greenwich Police Department told CNN. Her family told police she had dated someone named “Javier” but they broke up about a year ago, the document states.
When police searched Reyes’ home, prosecutors said, they found a drawing that matches the profile picture of one of Da Silva’s social media accounts.
Police: He used her debit card
Da Silva was arrested Monday night in Queens after he used an ATM card in New York that belonged to Reyes, said Capt. Robert Berry of the Greenwich Police Department.
Prosecutors said Reyes’ debit card was used on the same day she went missing to withdraw about $1,000 from a bank in New Rochelle.
Surveillance video showed a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt over his head around the time of the withdrawal. The man arrived in a Honda vehicle and parked across the street from the bank before he walked into the bank, the complaint said.
Authorities were able to trace down the vehicle to a rental car company in Flushing, New York. The company noted that someone had rented the vehicle from January 28 to 29 but that Da Silva was an authorized driver, the complaint said.
Da Silva’s arrest comes after detectives examined “multiple crime scenes,” reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance footage, interviewed numerous potential witnesses and analyzed social media footprints, Greenwich police said.
Police have said Reyes went missing the morning of January 29. Neither her family nor the employees at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Eastchester, where she had been working for nearly three years, had seen her for a few days.
She was found about a week later in Greenwich, a town with a population of around 63,000 that is on the Long Island Sound and about 35 miles outside New York City. The affluent town is home to hedge fund and financial firms.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the suspect’s last name.