The Connecticut State Medical Examiner released an official cause of death for Valerie Reyes, 24, of New Rochelle, who was found dead inside a red suitcase in a wooded area on the side of Glenville Street in February. Her hands and feet had been bound.
The official cause of death according to the Medical Examiner was “homicidal asphyxia,” and the manner of death was a homicide.
Ms Reyes had been reported missing to the New Rochelle Police Department on January 29.
Javier Enrique Da Silva Rojas, who overstayed his visa from Portugal, had used Reyes’ ATM card on Jan 29, after kidnapping his former girlfriend from her apartment and leaving the suitcase that contained her body in the woods along Glenville Rd.
That withdrawal ultimately led law enforcement to Mr. Da Silva.
“What zeroed us in, and the investigators from New Rochelle, was from the timeline we established, we believe she was already deceased and we saw continued ATM activity,” Greenwich Police Captain Robert Berry said back in February.
According to the complaint, when she was discovered, Reyes showed “obvious signs of head trauma including bruising around the face and a large hematoma” on her forehead.
Retired NYPD Sergeant Joe Giacalone, who served as the Commanding Officer of the Bronx Cold Case Homicide Squad, told GFP in February that the killer had acted clumsily.
“Dumping a body by the side of the road is very amateurish from the start,” he said. “No, I’d say this was not a professional hit. They wouldn’t have left it easy to find.”
Giacalone, who has worked on and supervised hundreds of homicides, violent felonies, suicides and missing persons cases, said Ms. Reyes’ killer did not likely take steps to try to outwit Greenwich Police when he dumped the suitcase, but rather acted in a panic.
Da Silva and Reyes had been in a relationship, according to prosecutors, but Reyes had ended the relationship about a year earlier. Rojas, who contends that Reyes, 24, fell and hit her head after they’d had sex in her apartment. He admitted to taping her mouth and putting her in the suitcase.
He was arrested in Flushing, Queens, and charged with a Kidnapping Resulting in Death, an offense that carries the death penalty.
Da Silva has been in custody since his arrest on Feb 12.
Multiple law enforcement agencies worked the case including Greenwich Police, New Rochelle Police and the FBI, Connecticut State’s Attorney, and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. Detectives combed multiple crime scenes, and examined hundreds of hours of surveillance footage during the investigation.