Boaters asked to watch for missing mom, believed dead, over Fourth of July week

Search for mother's body continues

ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office is asking boaters to be on the lookout for a missing woman whose body is believed to have been dumped in the Catawba River after she and her children were killed and their home set on fire.

“Boaters that are on Lake Hickory, Lake Lookout, Catawba River, and any waterways surrounding Alexander County are asked to help be on the lookout for anything suspicious located in the water,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “Boaters are asked to call local authorities if anything is seen in the water.”

Maria Calderon Martinez was last seen on June 14 at her home in the Sugar Loaf Community of Alexander County. On June 15, officials say, that home was set on fire after Martinez and her two children - 11-year-old Angel E. Pacheco and 13-year-old America D. Pacheco - were killed.

Investigators say 30-year-old Areli Aguiree Avilez shot the children inside the home and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Heidi Darlene Wolfe, then ran over their mother with a vehicle as she tried to run away.

Court documents obtained by WBTV state that Wolfe’s mother told authorities her daughter said Martinez’s body was dumped in the Catawba River.

“Avilez wrapped her up in a cover and they took her across Oxford Dam and dumped her body,” the documents state.

Crews searched for days for the mother’s body but have yet to locate her.

The Sheriff’s Office is also asking for the public’s help finding two acquaintances of Martinez’s - Jose Carlos Mendez-Pena and Luis Fernando Sanchez - who also haven’t been seen or contacted friends or family since June 14, the day before the fire. They are acquaintances of Calderon’s, officials said in June, and “are not considered suspects at this time in the investigation.”

Photos of Martinez, Mendez-Pena and Sanchez were released on Wednesday. Officials say Mendez-Pena could be in a dark blue, 2009 4-door Chevrolet Silverado with NC tag PFC-9029.

Juan Carlos Mendez-Pena (top left), Maria Calderon Martinez (top middle), Luiz Fernando Sanchez (top right) and Mendez-Pena's Chevrolet Silverado. (Alexander County Sheriff's Office)
Juan Carlos Mendez-Pena (top left), Maria Calderon Martinez (top middle), Luiz Fernando Sanchez (top right) and Mendez-Pena's Chevrolet Silverado. (Alexander County Sheriff's Office)

Anyone who sees any of the missing people or the truck, anything suspicious in the water, or has information about the crime is urged to immediately call the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at 828-632-1111, after hours and weekends at 828-632-2911, or Alexander County Crimestoppers at 828-632-8555.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.