FOX 5 EXCLUSIVE: Man suspected of murdering mom, kids in Herndon was convicted MS-13 gang member

A Fairfax County man suspected of murdering a mother and her two children in Herndon was a convicted MS-13 gang member who would still be locked up if his sentence had not been suspended, according to case information obtained by FOX 5.

FOX 5’s Lindsay Watts uncovered that in addition to his connection to the notorious gang, Jose Iraheta Palacios, 37, was in the U.S. illegally, according multiple sources.

READ MORE: Police identify man who allegedly killed girlfriend, 2 children before jumping to his death

Police encountered Iraheta Palacios Saturday morning, sitting on top of a Reston Town Center parking garage and threatening to jump. He told police he had killed his girlfriend, Claudia Menjivar, and her two children after an argument over infidelity, according to an affidavit filed by Herndon Police. 

Iraheta Palacios jumped to his death and police rushed to Menjivar’s apartment on Florida Ave. in Herndon to find her and the children, a 9-year-old boy and a girl who was turning 10 that day, had been murdered. Police have not released any cause of death, but say they got no reports of gunshots. 

READ MORE: Herndon neighbors mourn loss of mother, 2 children allegedly killed by man who jumped to his death

In 2015, Iraheta Palacios was arrested on a host of charges: human trafficking; gang participation (9 counts); gang recruitment (2 counts); conspiracy to cause a juvenile to assist in the distribution of marijuana (3 counts); conspiracy to distribute marijuana; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; aiding illicit sexual intercourse; use of a vehicle to promote unlawful sexual intercourse; threaten force to encourage gang participation; and obstruction of justice.

Manassas police said at the time that Palacios was known by the nickname "Little Crazy." Police said he and three others were arrested after "a nearly three-month-long investigation into an incident involving the assault of a fifteen-year-old female of Manassas, Va. by members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang during a gang initiation ritual on November 14, 2014."

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Iraheta Palacios pleaded guilty to human trafficking, Gang Recruitment of a Juvenile, and three counts of Gang Participation in Fairfax County Circuit Court. 

He was sentenced to nine years, which would have put him behind bars until 2024, but a judge suspended seven years. He served two years in state prison and then was deported.

Iraheta Palacios went on to return to the U.S.

The father of the two children killed told FOX 5 that he didn’t know Iraheta Palacios. When we told him about our reporting on his past, he said simply, "(I) don’t know why they let him out."