Cause of death released in murder of New York woman found stuffed in suitcase

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GREENWICH, Conn. — A New York woman found dead in a suitcase along a road in February had suffocated, according to the Connecticut medical examiner.

The office confirmed Monday that homicidal asphyxia was the cause of death of 24-year-old Valerie Reyes, of New Rochelle, New York. The office did not say whether she died before she was in the suitcase.

Her body was found by Greenwich town employees Feb. 5. She had been reported missing by her family six days prior.

Her ex-boyfriend, Javier Da Silva Rojas, of New York City, is being held on a federal charge of kidnapping resulting in death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Rojas, a citizen of Portugal, entered the U.S. through a visa waiver program but did not leave the country within the required timeframe, ICE officials said. ICE plans to take custody of Rojas for immediate removal when he is released from criminal custody.

The suspect told investigators that he and Reyes were having sex at her New Rochelle apartment on January 29 when “at some point she fell to the floor and hit her head,” prosecutors said in a federal complaint.

Da Silva then said he put packing tape over Reyes’ mouth, bound her legs and hands and put her in a suitcase that he later put in her car, the complaint said.

He drove away and drove for some time, the complaint said, until he left the suitcase in a forest.

Reyes was found barefoot, her shirt was unbuttoned and her hands were bound behind her back with a white string and packing tape, the complaint said.

Authorities declined to discuss the relationship between Reyes and Da Silva. Her family told police she had dated someone named “Javier” but they broke up about a year ago, the document states.

When police searched Reyes’ home, prosecutors said, they found a drawing that matches the profile picture of one of Da Silva’s social media accounts.

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