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Suitcase Murder Victim Valerie Reyes’ Cause of Death Revealed


The 24-year-old New Rochelle, N.Y. woman who was found dead on the side of a Greenwich, Connecticut road in Feb. 2019 died from a lack of oxygen, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington said. The official cause of Valerie Reyes‘ death is “homicidal asphyxia.”

Javier da Silva, a 24-year-old Venezuelan-Portuguese dual citizen who was overstaying his visa in Queens, N.Y., was arrested in February for Reyes’ kidnapping and death. Reyes was last seen on Jan. 29 and NYPD sent out an alert on Jan. 31 reporting her as missing. Police said that they discovered that da Silva used Reyes’ ATM card in New York. The investigation reportedly included reviewing more than 100 hours of surveillance video, social media analysis, and witness interviews.

Law enforcement experts with decades of experience investigating murders said from the start that the nature of the killing seemed “interpersonal” and that Reyes’ killer was known to her. The victim’s mother Norma Sanchez even said that she had a conversation with her daughter the night before she disappeared. She said that Reyes feared that she would be murdered but didn’t say by whom.

“She didn’t mention anything. She didn’t mention no one specific,” Sanchez said. “She just mentioned, ‘I’m really, really scared. I’m paranoid, mommy. I’m getting anxiety attacks.’”

“I’m afraid someone is going to murder me,” she recalled her daughter saying. Reyes’ mother said that Reyes supported da Silva while his mother was dying of cancer. She recalled da Silva being “really pushy” and the type who “wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

According to CBS, da Silva has confessed to putting packing tape over Reyes’ mouth and disposing of her body in the suitcase, but said he did so after they had sex at her apartment and Reyes fell and hit her head.

Then he allegedly left the suitcase on the side of a road in the affluent Greenwich, Connecticut.

“There were obvious signs of head trauma, including bruising around the face and a large hematoma to the deceased female’s forehead,” according to the complaint.

According to the reports, da Silva’s defense lawyers have been in talks with prosecutors about a plea deal and seemingly set “early May” as a deadline for reaching said deal.

“The government and defense counsel have had discussions regarding a possible disposition of this case as recently as March 2019,” federal prosecutors said in court documents two weeks ago. “The negotiations have not been completed and we plan to continue our discussions.”

A Department of Justice spokesman confirmed that they are “working to find a resolution of the case without a trial.” The murder charge against da Silva means he could get the death penalty or life in prison. It seems likely that any deal would mean the death penalty is off the table.

[Image via ABC News screengrab]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.