ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Authorities say human remains found in a wooded area at an Anne Arundel County park has been identified as a 22-year-old man who went missing last year. Police believe he may have been killed by gang members.
Officials say human skeletal remains were located at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis on August 28 after police received a tip. The remains were transported Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore.
On Thursday, Anne Arundel County police say DNA testing has identified the victim as 22-year-old Jose Hernandez-Portillo from the Annapolis area. He was reported missing on March 11, 2016 and police have been investigating his disappearance since then.
Hernandez-Portillo’s remains showed evidence of trauma and homicide detectives believe he was murdered around the time of his disappearance. Detectives said they are also confident that this was a targeted crime and not a random act of violence, police say.
This is the second suspected gang-related death of a young person from Annapolis that we have learned about in the past two months. Four men and one woman ranging in ages from 18 to 25 were charged in the brutal beating death of 21-year-old Jenni Rivera Lopez, who was found buried in a wooded area in Crownsville back in September. She was a former Annapolis High School student.
Now, the family of a current student, 16-year-old David Rivera, said he has been missing since August 29. With all of the news about gang activity in the county, Rivera's mother is fearing for his life.
Magdelana Rivera made an emotional plea to anyone who may know where her son may be. She said he was lying on the couch at around 10 p.m. when she left to pick her husband up from work. When she came back, he was gone.
Police are investigating, but have not turned up any leads so far.
Rivera said while she does not believe her son is in a gang, but she fears he may have fallen in with the wrong crowd.
“She thinks somebody called him, so he came out and he never came back,” said Rivera’s niece translating for her aunt. “She is afraid that they might have him. She is really worried they might kill him.”
Earlier this month, Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare made a public plea for anyone with information about gang activity in the county to contact police.
Police have been circulating fliers with gang prevention tips. What has not been made clear is whether or not this is all linked to the El Salvador-based MS-13 gang.
A spokesperson for the FBI confirmed that they are assisting in the investigation into the death of Hernandez-Portillo.
Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to call the Anne Arundel County Homicide Unit at 410-222-4731. Anonymous tips can be left at the Anne Arundel County Police Tip Line at 410-222-4700.