Restaurant co-worker charged in woman’s death
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