Frederick Police say murder charges will be filed against Jose Reyes Mejia-Varela for allegedly killing Jacinta Patricia Ayala at a Burger King on March 18.
Mejia-Varela is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending sentencing on federal criminal charges for illegally re-entering the country after having been deported as an aggravated felon, police say.
A detainer has been filed with the U.S. Marshals Service in relation to these murder charges and the warrant will be served once sentencing is carried out on his federal charges.
The victim was identified as Jacinta Patricia Ayala, an assistant manager of the Burger King.
Police say Ayala was ambushed on March 18 as she arrived to work and forced to open the safe in the restaurant office. She was then shot and killed. Responding police found her inside the restaurant unresponsive and suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.
Her family released a statement saying "the news of the arrest and charging of Jose Reyes Mejia-Verela gives us the sense of relief and anticipation that justice will be served. Patty was a loving mother to her 3 children, a girlfriend, a sister and a friend, and we miss her deeply. "
Police say the exhaustive investigation has been conducted in cooperation with numerous local, state, and federal agencies.
“Evidence had to be analyzed step by step... wasn't a case were you had an eyewitness, this wasn't a case of confession...this is a case that took a lot of diligence,” said Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith.
Susan Wireman, who lives in Monrovia, Md., said she’s glad a suspect is in custody. “My daughter just works over here so it was very unnerving,” she said.
Family members, friends and community members say they are relieved and grateful police have identified a suspect.
“I work nights almost the same shift and the vendors that service Burger King service us too. They came right afterwards. They were pretty shocked, so I'm pretty sure it's gonna alleviate a lot of stress for a lot of people,” said Roy Burke of Frederick.
Mejia-Varela has been charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, first and second-degree assault and theft.