SPRINGFIELD, Va. - Ten people have been charged in connection with the gang murder of a 15-year-old girl found dead near an industrial park in Virginia.
Four adults, Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 18, Wilmer A. Sanchez-Serrano, 21, Aldair J. Miranda Carcamo, 18, Jose Castillo Rivas, 18, and six juveniles, a 15-year-old girl, 16-year-old boy, two 17-year-old boys and a 17-year-old girl, have been charged with abduction and gang participation, police say.
The remains of 15-year-old Damaris Reyes Rivas were found on Saturday near an industrial park in the Springfield area of Fairfax County. Police believe Rivas was held against her will, taken to Lake Accotink Park and assaulted before she was killed and left nearby in the 7100 block of Wimsatt Road. Detectives believe this all happened on or around Jan. 8. FOX 5 has also learned there is video connected to this case, but police would not elaborate.
Police say the arrests are part of several cases involving an area gang and involve multiple overlapping investigations with multiple suspects. Police would not identify the gang involved, but FOX 5 has learned that it is MS-13 behind the violence around the area.
A 17-year-old girl who returned home Tuesday night after she was reported missing by her mother on Jan. 15 has also been taken into police custody related to this murder case. At a press conference on Wednesday, Fairfax County police said Venus Iraheta is connected to the Rivas case, but would not say to what extent.
Police said Iraheta returned home at around 9 p.m. Tuesday and detectives were interviewing her "regarding the circumstances surrounding her absence."
Another recent missing persons case involving 16-year-old Lizzy Rivera Colindres and her 5-month-old baby is also connected to Rivas' murder. Also reported missing on Jan. 15, both the teenager and child were found safe last Sunday -- one day after Rivas' remains were discovered. Both of them live next to the woods where the remains were discovered and the baby's father, Jose Castillo Rivas, is one of the adults facing charges in this case.
Police in Prince William County say that the Jan. 12 death of Christian Sosa Rivas, who was found washed up on the banks of the Potomac River, may be connected to the gang investigation in Fairfax County.
“The incidents are specific,” said Fairfax County Police Officer Tawny Wright. “There does not appear to be a public safety threat. We don't think that they are going out randomly attacking other people. It looks like they are targeted among each other.”
A Department of Homeland Security official told FOX 5 they have seen an uptick in violence from MS-13 in the region in the past two years. He said 18- and 19-year-olds in high schools work to recruit younger kids to help them carry out crimes because they are aware charges are less serious for juveniles.
Rivas was a student at Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg.
“Certainly, MCPS is not immune to gang activity and we have been proactive working with the community, working with law enforcement to make sure that we are prepared and that we are keeping our schools as safe as possible,” said Derek Turner, a spokesperson for Montgomery County Public Schools. “We take plenty of steps to keep our students and our community safe. We have a [school resource officer] in the school building and we have a security team there, so we are dedicated to keeping our school community safe and a welcome learning environment for all students.”