Suitcase killer sentenced: DA

Edwin Fuentes is sentenced to 20 years in prison as part of a plea deal for the murder and dismembermemt of his wife, Reina De Los Santos. Photo by Ellis Kaplan
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The former Woodhaven man who admitted to killing his wife, dismembering her body and dumping some of her body parts in a suitcase in Forest Park was sentenced to 20 years in prison last week, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Edwin Fuentes, 44, whose last known address was in Newark, N.J., admitted choking his wife until she turned blue between June 19, 2007, and June 22, 2007, inside their apartment at 78-17 88th Road in Woodhaven when he pleaded guilty to the crimes last month.

Fuentes also admitted to dismembering Reina De Los Santos and stuffing some of her body parts in a suitcase that he dumped in Forest Park, the DA said.

He was sentenced to 20 years in prison by Queens Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak after pleading guilty last month to manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence.

Brown said the sentence “is a measure of justice for the victim and her family. It ensures that her husband will be punished for his actions and it spares the couple’s 13-year-old daughter from having to testify against her father for viciously killing her mother. Police and prosecutors are to be commended for their diligence in pursuing the case over the course of two years.”

Fuentes avoided a lengthier prison sentence because he showed police and prosecutors where the rest of his wife’s body was located as part of a plea deal, Brown said.

In the days following the murder, Fuentes called police to report his wife missing and said he last saw her on June 20, 2007, the DA said.

When police showed up at his door, an officer noticed scratch marks on both of his arms, which he said were from playing with his children, and what appeared to be a bite mark on his left hand, the DA said.

The officer also observed Fuentes being “very nervous” and “shaking and stuttering,” Brown said.

Almost a year later, on March 4, 2008, four teens walking in Forest Park near Park Lane South and Forest Parkway saw a suitcase, opened it up and found what looked like partial human remains, the DA said.

The suitcase was taken to the Queens County morgue, where the remains were identified as a human skull and various other body parts, Brown said.

The remains were identified as De Los Santos’ through dental records and a kinship DNA analysis, the DA said.

An autopsy could not determine the specific cause of death because most of De Los Santos’ body could not be recovered, the DA said. The medical examiner ruled the cause of death to be homicidal violence, type undetermined.

The investigation into the murder found Fuentes and De Los Santos had a loud argument around 10 p.m. June 19, 2007, and the next morning around 6 a.m. Fuentes got his daughter and step-son ready for school while De Los Santos was “sleeping,” the DA said.

Fuentes would not let their daughter kiss De Los Santos goodbye and when they returned from school, their mother was gone and the children never saw or spoke to her again, Brown said.

Witnesses also told police that Fuentes had been heard threatening to kill De Los Santos in April 2007 and that he had been seen choking her and threatening to kill her in May 2007 if she ever left him.

In a statement to police, Fuentes admitted he used to be a butcher and when officers asked if he was going to get away with the murder, he replied, “I sure as hell am going to try.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 12:27 am, November 17, 2011
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