‘We hope this obtains some level of justice for Valerie and her family…’
(Christine Dempsey and Neil Vigdor, The Hartford Courant) An ex-boyfriend of Valerie Reyes is in federal custody after prosecutors say he confessed to the slaying of the 24-year-old New Rochelle, N.Y., woman, whose body was stuffed inside a suitcase and dumped on the side of the road in Greenwich, Conn. a week ago.
Detectives from Connecticut and New York, working with the FBI, arrested Javier Da Silva on Monday night in Queens, N.Y., who they say they “zeroed” in on after he used Reyes’ ATM card to withdraw cash after she was killed.
Da Silva is being charged with one count of kidnapping resulting in death, which carries a sentence of death or life in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced Tuesday. He was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y. The case is being handled by federal prosecutors because of the multiple jurisdictions involved.
Prosecutors say Da Silva told detectives that he had sex with Reyes on or about Jan. 29 and that she fell to the floor and hit her head. He then put packing tape over Reyes’ mouth and tied her hands and feet together with twine before putting her in a suitcase, according to the criminal complaint.
“This same suspect was interviewed jointly by Greenwich and New Rochelle detectives and admitted a role in the death of Valerie Reyes,” Greenwich police Capt. Robert Berry said during a news conference earlier in the day. “What became very suspicious to us was use of the ATM card (when) we believe she had already been deceased.”
Federal prosecutors confirmed that Reyes’ death was a homicide, though an exact cause has not been released yet by Connecticut’s medical examiner.
In chilling new details, federal prosecutors say Da Silva admitted to kidnapping Reyes and placing the suitcase with Reyes’ body “in a forest.” Investigators also found a drawing in Reyes’ apartment that matched a social media profile photo of Da Silva, according to the criminal complaint.
“Together with our partners from the Greenwich and New Rochelle Police Departments, we were able to swiftly identify Javier Da Silva, an alleged murderer, and place him behind bars,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said. “But 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.”
Police are not releasing information on when or where Reyes was killed.
“We hope this obtains some level of justice for Valerie and her family,” Berry said. “This entire investigation has been a Herculean effort from the very beginning from the additional officers on scene to all the detectives involved chasing down numerous leads.”
Investigators say they obtained security camera footage from a bank in New Rochelle the day after Reyes was reported missing showing a person matching the description of Da Silva making a cash withdrawal from an ATM, as well as video from a city street camera nearby showing the movements of Da Silva. He was driving a Honda CRV that detectives traced back to a rental car company in Queens, prosecutors said.
A Greenwich public works employee found Reyes’ clothed body in the suitcase near the shoulder of Glenville Road Feb. 5. He was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday for taking unauthorized photos of the victim and the crime scene on his town-issued cellphone.
“That is still under review,” Berry said. “That is mostly going to be an issue for the town of Greenwich.”
Glenville Road was shut down and the lengthy process of combing the lightly wooded scene for evidence began. Detectives also searched Reyes’ basement apartment in New Rochelle, about 15 miles away, for evidence.
Last Thursday, police identified the victim as Reyes, who was last seen on Jan. 29. She was reported missing the following day when she didn’t show up for work at Barnes & Noble in Eastchester, N.Y.
In addition to processing evidence from multiple crime scenes, detectives have conducted numerous interviews of potential witnesses and reviewed hundreds of hours of surveillance footage, Greenwich police said.
©2019 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed.