Man pleads guilty to killing a woman and dumping her body in Connecticut woods, officials say

(CNN) — Javier Da Silva Rojas, 25, pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to kidnapping resulting in death in the killing of Valerie Reyes, according to a release from the Greenwich Police Department posted to Facebook.

Reyes’ body was found in a suitcase in Greenwich, Connecticut in February 2019, police said.

“This lengthy investigation included examination of multiple crime scenes, hundreds of hours of surveillance footage, and numerous interviews of potential witnesses. Additionally, social media footprints and records from a variety of sources were analyzed,” the release says. Da Silva Rojas was Reyes’ former boyfriend, Greenwich Police previously told CNN.

Rojas is expected to be sentenced May 21, 2020, and could face at least 30 years in prison, according to officials. The case is being prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, White Plains Division.

“As he admitted today in court, Javier Da Silva committed a horrid kidnapping that resulted in the tragic death of Valerie Reyes, a young woman with her entire adult life ahead of her,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a statement.

The Federal Defenders of New York, whose lawyers are representing Da Silva Rojas, declined to comment.

The Kidnapping

On January 29th, 2019, Da Silva Rojas arrived at Reyes’ apartment in New Rochelle, New York, and switched his phone to “airplane mode” before entering, prosecutors said in a statement on Wednesday. He proceeded to put packing tape over her mouth, bound her legs and hands and put her in a red suitcase that he later put in her car, prosecutors said.

Da Silva Rojas drove away for some time, a 2019 federal complaint said, until he left the suitcase in a forest. About a week after she’d been missing, Reyes’ body was found on February 5, inside the suitcase when a group of highway workers who were on a routine sweep spotted the bag about 15 to 20 feet from the road.

Da Silva Rojas had previously told prosecutors that “at some point she fell to the floor and hit her head” while the two were having sex, prosecutors said in the complaint. The Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office later concluded that Reyes died of homicidal asphyxiation, prosecutors said in a statement Wednesday.

Stolen debit card leads to arrest

Da Silva Rojas was arrested on February 11, 2019 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.

Authorities were able to trace a vehicle seen in surveillance footage of a man in a black hooded sweatshirt withdrawing money from the Queens ATM. A rental car company in Flushing, New York, noted that someone had rented the vehicle from January 28 to 29 but that Da Silva Rojas was an authorized driver, the complaint 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.

An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said Da Silva Rojas, who is from Portugal, traveled to the US with a visa in 2017 but failed to leave the country “within the required time frame.”

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