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Suspect arrested in connection with 2023 slaying of Maryland mother Rachel Morin

Suspect arrested in connection with 2023 slaying of Maryland mother Rachel Morin

Suspect arrested in connection with 2023 slaying of Maryland mother Rachel Morin

Dillon Mullan/Baltimore Sun/TNS/Getty Images

A memorial to Rachel Morin is displayed on a tree on the Ma & Pa Trail in Bel Air, Maryland.



CNN

A months-long investigation into the 2023 slaying of a Maryland mother has led to the arrest of a 23-year-old man, according to local authorities.

Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez, a citizen of El Salvador, was arrested at a bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday night, according to the Tulsa Police Department.

“Officers found the suspect sitting at the bar and arrested him. The suspect initially lied about his true identity and denied any knowledge of the crimes for which he is wanted,” the department said in a Facebook post.

Martinez-Hernandez was arrested on trespassing charges, but when officers ran his information, they discovered he was wanted in connection with a rape and murder in Maryland. He faces charges of first-degree rape and first-degree murder in the case, authorities said.

On Monday, he signed a waiver authorizing Maryland authorities to extradite him from Oklahoma to Maryland for prosecution, Cristie Hopkins, director of media and public relations for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN.

During a news conference Saturday, Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said the extradition could take at least 10 days.

Martinez-Hernandez is suspected of multiple crimes since he illegally crossed the border into the United States in February 2023, Gahler said.

One of those crimes is the rape and murder of Rachel Morin, a Maryland mother of five, the sheriff said. Morin was killed along a hiking trail in Bel Air in August 2023, according to authorities.

“We all suspected that maybe Rachel wasn’t his first victim. And I understand that this suspect, this monster, fled to the United States illegally after committing the brutal murder of a young woman in El Salvador a month earlier in January,” Gahler said. “I never want him to leave Maryland. I want him to die in a Maryland prison.”

On May 20, which would have been Morin’s 38th birthday, investigators finally uncovered a lead that led them to Martinez-Hernandez, Gahler said during the news conference.

The evidence was a DNA sample left at a Los Angeles crime scene where police say Martinez-Hernandez brutally attacked a 9-year-old girl and her mother during a March 2023 home invasion.

William DelBagno, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore office, said their genetic investigation team traced that DNA to potential family members and even traveled to El Salvador to help identify the alleged killer.

“We know nothing can take away the pain and anguish that Rachel’s family and friends have endured. Please know, on behalf of the FBI, our hearts go out to you,” DelBagno said.

Morin’s mother, Patricia Morin, attended the press conference and expressed her gratitude to the authorities for their work and to the media for keeping her daughter’s story alive.

“I’m so grateful they brought us to this place. At times during this time, I didn’t think we would ever have an end, that it would be a cold case,” said Patricia Morin.

The hall then burst into applause.

Speaking to CNN affiliate WBFF, Matt McMahon, the father of Morin’s oldest daughter, said he felt “joy, relief, gratitude” at the news of Martinez-Hernandez’s arrest, as well as sadness at the things Morin didn’t -could never experience. .

McMahon and Morin’s daughter Faye, 18, is due to have her own daughter this year, he told WBFF.

“It’s a happy moment and a sad moment because Rachel should be here for that moment,” he said. “And Faye should be able to break the news to Rachel, tell Rachel that you’re going to be a grandmother. But she can never break that news.”

Harford County State’s Attorney Alison Healey is leading the prosecution of this case and said it will begin once the suspect is transported back to Harford County.

CNN could not determine if Martinez-Hernandez has retained an attorney at this time.