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Suspect arrested in connection with 2023 murder of Maryland mother Rachel Morin

By Jillian Sykes, CNN

(CNN) — A months-long investigation into the 2023 murder of a Maryland mother has led to the arrest of a 23-year-old man, according to local authorities.

Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez, a citizen of El Salvador, was arrested at a bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday night, according to the Tulsa Police Department.

“Officers found the suspect casually sitting at the bar and placed him under arrest. Initially the suspect lied about his true identity and denied any knowledge of the crimes he is wanted for,” the department said in a post on Facebook.

Martinez-Hernandez was taken into custody on a trespassing charge, but when officers ran his information, they found he was wanted in connection with a rape and murder in Maryland. He faces charges of first-degree rape and first-degree murder in that case, authorities said.

On Monday, he signed a waiver authorizing Maryland authorities to extradite him from Oklahoma to Maryland for prosecution, Harford County Sheriff’s Office Director of Media and Public Relations Cristie Hopkins told CNN.

During a news conference on Saturday, Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said the extradition could take at least 10 days.

Martinez-Hernandez is suspected of multiple crimes since he illegally crossed the border into the United States in February of 2023, Gahler said.

One of those crimes is the rape and murder of Rachel Morin, a Maryland mother of five, the sheriff said. Morin was killed along a hiking trail in Bel Air in August of 2023, according to authorities.

“We all suspected that perhaps Rachel was not his first victim. And it’s my understanding that this suspect, this monster, fled to the United States illegally after committing the brutal murder of a young woman in El Salvador a month earlier in January,” Gahler said. “I never want him to leave Maryland again. I want him to die in a Maryland jail.”

On May 20, what would have been Morin’s 38th birthday, investigators finally uncovered a lead that led them to Martinez-Hernandez, Gahler said during the news conference.

The lead was a piece of DNA evidence left at a crime scene in Los Angeles where police say Martinez-Hernandez brutally attacked a 9-year-old girl and her mother during a home invasion in March of 2023.

William DelBagno, special agent in charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office, said their investigative genetic genealogy team traced that DNA to potential family members and even traveled to El Salvador to help identify the suspected killer.

“We know nothing can take away the pain and the anguish Rachel’s family and friends have endured. Please know, on behalf of the FBI, our hearts are with you,” DelBagno said.

Morin’s mother, Patricia Morin, attended the news conference and expressed gratitude to authorities for their hard work and to the media for keeping her daughter’s story alive.

“I am so grateful that they have brought us to this place. At some of the points during this, I didn’t think that we were ever going to have an end, that it was going to be a cold case,” Patricia Morin said.

The room then erupted in applause.

Speaking with CNN affiliate WBFF, Matt McMahon, the father of Morin’s eldest daughter, said that he felt “joy, relief, gratitude” at the news of Martinez-Hernandez’ arrest as well as sadness at the things Morin would never be able to experience.

McMahon and Morin’s daughter, 18-year-old Faye, is set to have her own daughter this year, he told WBFF.

“It’s a happy moment and a sad moment too because Rachel should be here for that moment,” he said. “And Faye should be able to give Rachel that news, to tell Rachel you’re going to be a grandmother. But she can never give that news.”

Alison Healey, Harford County State’s Attorney, is leading the prosecution of this case and said it will commence once the suspect has been transported back to Harford County.

CNN has been unable to determine if Martinez-Hernandez has retained an attorney at this time.

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