According to the Queens District Attorney’s office, Fuentes admitted to putting his arm around his wife’s neck and choking her, then later, dismembering her body, placing some of the body parts in a suitcase which was found by a group of teenagers in Forest Park close to one year later.
Charged with first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, the 44-year-old is facing 20 years in prison.
In pleading guilty, Fuentes admitted that between June 19, 2007 and June 22, 2007, while they resided at 78-17 78th Road in Woodhaven, he caused the death of his wife by putting his arm around her neck and choking her until she turned blue.
She was 42 years old.
As part of his guilty plea, Fuentes agreed to show investigators where the rest of his wife’s body is located.
Fuentes’ plea comes at a time when his now 13-year-old daughter is learning and dealing with the reality that her father was responsible for her “missing” mother and her demise.
“Though the defendant was able to evade justice for more than two years, the diligence of police and prosecutors in pursuing this case has now ensured that he will serve a lengthy time behind bars for his actions,” said Queens D.A Richard Brown.
According to the D.A.’s office, in June 2007 police received a call from Fuentes, who reported that his wife was missing and that she never came home.
The police officer who responded to the call noted that Fuentes had fresh scratch marks on both of his arms and what appeared to be a bite mark on his left hand. He also seemed very nervous and was shaking and stuttering. Fuentes told police that the scratch marks were from playing with his children and that he last saw his wife on June 20, 2007.
The D.A.’s statement on the sentencing further details that detectives soon learned of the couple’s loud argument at approximately 10:00 p.m. on June 19, 2007.
According to the statement, witnesses reported that Fuentes had been heard threatening to kill Reyes in April of that year and that in May, he had been observed choking Reyes and threatening to kill her if she ever left him.
According to the Queens D.A., on March 4, 2008, four teenagers walking in Forest Park near Park Lane South and Forest Parkway observed a suitcase, which ended up containing a human skull and various other body parts. The remains, identified through dental records and kinship DNA analysis, were proven to be Reyes’.
At the time the cause of death could not be determined because most of the victim’s body was not recovered. The medical examiner ruled the death to be homicidal violence of an undetermined type.
In a statement to police, Fuentes admitted he used to be a butcher. When asked by police if he thought he was going to get away with murder, he replied, “I sure as hell am going to try.”
As the case rattled Woodhaven, Reyes’ sister Marisol De Los Santos, began to seek assistance from community leaders after the police told her that she might have abandoned her family.
She received help from Enrique Lugo of the Corona National Group and disgraced, former Councilman Hiram Monserrate. Monserrate held rallies and press conferences to raise awareness. He also conducted a flyer distribution in search of Reyes.
“This is the last chapter in a horrible and sad case of domestic violence and murder,” said Martha Flores-Vazquez, a district leader who participated in the rallies and press conferences, in a statement.
She applauds the two men for their contributions. “I take this time to bear witness to the work of two men who stood by a woman neither of them knew personally,” she added. “God Bless them both and the family of Reyna Isabel de los Santos.”