Man jailed for suffocating ex-girlfriend to death in suitcase he abandoned by roadside

·2-min read

A man who tied up his ex-girlfriend inside a suitcase and left her to suffocate to death by the side of a road in Connecticut has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Javier Da Silva Rojas, 26, from Queens, New York, pled guilty last year to one count of kidnapping resulting in death for his savage attack on 24-year-old Valerie Reyes, a book shop worker and aspiring tattoo artist.

At a sentencing hearing in White Plains on Thursday, Ms Reyes’ mother Norma Sanchez called Da Silva a “selfish, greedy and soulless person” who “deserve[s] nothing but pain and rejection”.

Da Silva will face two years of supervised release after his prison sentence ends. Federal immigration authorities say that he is in the US illegally, meaning he could also be deported.

US attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Javier Da Silva committed a horrific kidnapping that resulted in the death of a young woman. The victim of this crime was in the prime of her life when it was senselessly ended by Da Silva’s abhorrent act.”

Da Silva, a Venezuelan migrant who had dated Ms Reyes for three months in 2018, admitted getting into a violent fight with her at her apartment. He then bound her feet and arms, taped her mouth and stuffed her into a red suitcase in January 2019.

He dumped the suitcase in woods near Greenwich, Connecticut, where it was found a week later. A medical examiner said Ms Reyes had died of asphyxia.

According to court documents, Ms Reyes had told her mother one day beforehand that she was nervous that someone was going to murder her. When Ms Reyes did not show up for her job at a Barnes & Noble book store, her family launched a search.

Prosecutors say that Da Silva used her debit card to take out more than $5,300 and stole her iPad and laptop.

When her body was found, Da Silva is said to have rented the same car in which he had driven to her apartment and taken it to a car wash. However, his DNA was found on the suitcase handle and under Ms Reyes’ fingernails.

Da Silva cried as he apologised to her family on Thursday.

“No words can express how repulsed I am by the acts I committed. I will never forgive myself for that.“I cannot ask [her family] to forgive me because I don’t deserve it. I would like them to know I’m very sorry,” he said.

Prosecutors countered that he had showed no remorse in the aftermath of the crime.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that he had entered the US in 2017 on a 90-day visa waiver and illegally overstayed. His lawyers said he had fled chaos in Venezuela to find a better life in the US.

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