Restau­rant co-worker charged in wo­man’s death

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - MARYLAND BY DAN MORSE dan.morse@wash­post.com

Da­nia de Guerra kept a rou­tine af­ter her shifts ended at a KFC restau­rant in down­town Wheaton, Md.: She’d walk home, just a few blocks away, to her hus­band and 4-year-old child.

Six days ago, de Guerra never came home. Her hus­band re­ported her miss­ing.

On Fri­day, the search for the 21-year-old ended in the most tragic of ways: Her body — found with trau­matic in­juries to her head and face — was found be­hind two large dump­sters just a block from the restau­rant. Within hours, de­tec­tives had charged an­other KFC worker — a 47-year-old who pur­port­edly had a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship with de Guerra — with killing her.

“The de­fen­dant dis­closed to in­ves­ti­ga­tors that the vic­tim was up­set with him and wanted to break up,” de­tec­tives wrote in a charg­ing doc­u­ment filed Satur­day.

Po­lice iden­ti­fied him as Elmer M. Cam­pos-Martinez, of the 14000 block of Cove Lane in Rockville. He was or­dered held with­out bond at the Mont­gomery County De­ten­tion Cen­ter and is expected to ap­pear in court Mon­day to have the terms of his bond re­viewed.

On­line records do not in­di­cate if Cam­pos-Martinez has re­tained an at­tor­ney.

On Satur­day, po­lice said de Guerra died of blunt force trauma and as­phyxia.

On Nov. 5, Cam­pos-Martinez and de Guerra worked the evening shift, start­ing at 4 p.m., at the KFC on Uni­ver­sity Boule­vard West, three blocks east of Ge­or­gia Av­enue.

Cam­pos-Martinez left the restau­rant at 11:45 p.m. De Guerra left less than an hour later, at 12:30 a.m.

Po­lice be­gan their search for her later that day. Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, they learned that de Guerra and Cam­pos-Martinez were in­volved in a re­la­tion­ship, ac­cord­ing to a po­lice charg­ing doc­u­ment.

It wasn’t clear from the ar­rest records how quickly po­lice sus­pected that Cam­pos-Martinez was re­spon­si­ble for what had hap­pened to de Guerra.

At 3:30 p.m. Fri­day, her body was found “par­tially ob­scured by trash be­hind a dump­ster” be­hind a building along Uni­ver­sity Boule­vard West.

“The vic­tim ap­peared to have suf­fered trauma to her head and face, and there were de­fen­sive wounds to her hands,” de­tec­tives wrote in court records.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors spoke to Cam­pos-Martinez.

He said that af­ter he’d got­ten off work late Sun­day night, he waited near the KFC for de Guerra to get off work. He said they met up, she told him she wanted to break up and an ar­gu­ment en­sued, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Cam­pos-Martinez “dis­closed punch­ing the vic­tim three times and push­ing her to the ground where she hit her head,” court doc­u­ments al­lege.

Cam­pos-Martinez said de Guerra ap­peared to be un­re­spon­sive. He took her purse and cell­phone and called a taxi to leave the area, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments.

Cam­pos-Martinez also said that he dis­carded the cell­phone and purse in a dump­ster af­ter he got home.

The charg­ing doc­u­ments do not de­tail any fur­ther ques­tions de­tec­tives may have asked Cam­pos-Martinez, such as whether he tried to call 911 af­ter he saw de Guerra ap­pear to be un­re­spon­sive.

De­tec­tives charged him with sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, which does not carry with it the pre­med­i­ta­tion needed for the state’s more se­ri­ous charge of first-de­gree mur­der.

In cases like this, ev­i­dence is pre­sented to a grand jury to see if the case should pro­ceed. Dur­ing that process, the spe­cific charges also can change.

Da­nia de Guerra was 21 years old.

Elmer M. Cam­posMartinez

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