Posted on June 17, 2024

Man Wanted in Woman’s Killing in El Salvador Arrested in Maryland Hiker’s Death

Dennis Romero, NBC, June 15, 2024

A fugitive wanted in El Salvador in the killing of a young woman was arrested in the murder last year of a Maryland hiker, authorities said Saturday.

The suspect, Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez, 23, was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at about 11:30 p.m. Friday, Harford County, Maryland, Sheriff Jeff Gahler said at a news conference.

Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez

Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez

Rachel Morin’s body was discovered at Ma and Pa Trail in Bel Air, Maryland, on Aug. 6, 2023, the day after her boyfriend reported her missing, authorities said. {snip}

In a statement Saturday, the sheriff’s office said investigators believe Martinez-Hernandez “was hiding adjacent to a trail and where Rachel was walking and attacked and killed Morin before fleeing Maryland.”

Authorities have not said if a weapon was involved or how exactly Morin, a 37-year-old mother of five, was killed. On Saturday, Gahler said the suspect faces first-degree murder and first-degree rape charges in Maryland in connection with the Morin attack.

Gahler alleged the suspect came to the U.S. in February 2023 without permission as he fled El Salvador, with authorities seeking him in the death of a young woman there. The sheriff didn’t name the gang he said the suspect claimed.

The sheriff used the news conference Saturday to criticize federal leadership regarding border security.

“American citizens are not safe because of failed immigration policies,” Gahler said.

He said Morin was the second woman in the county allegedly killed in recent years by someone with gang ties from El Salvador who was in the country illegally.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to “close” the border if he’s elected, and he has accused President Joe Biden of creating an “open border” with Mexico through which criminals from around the world are crossing.

Though spending on the border has risen steadily since the 1990s, Biden answered concerns about migration by taking executive action this month to “suspend the entry” of immigrants who cross the border illegally.


Gahler said he is concerned additional crimes could be connected to the Harford County case.

“The investigators fear that we are going to stumble across another crime,” Gahler said.

A March 2023 home invasion in south Los Angeles in which a 9-year-old girl was assaulted helped lead to an arrest in the Maryland case, the sheriff said.

Doorbell video from the home depicts a shirtless suspect exiting the residence. More importantly, Gahler said, DNA evidence from that crime scene matched genetic material found in the investigation of Morin’s murder.