ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A body found in a burned truck in Virginia has been identified as a mother killed in a “mass murder” that happened in Alexander County in the summer of 2019.
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office say they received a call from the sheriff of Grayson County, Virginia. The call was to inform the sheriff’s office that the medical examiner in Roanoke, Virginia had made a positive identification on the remains of Maria Calderon Martinez.
The remains were originally found in a burned vehicle in Virginia on Nov. 4, 2019. In November, officials told WBTV the truck connected to a “mass murder” in Alexander County was found with the skeletal remains of three people inside in Grayson, Virginia.
According to Sheriff Bowman, a deer hunter found the missing blue 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Pickup truck. Law enforcement officials who went to process the scene say the truck had been burned.
It is believed that the two other bodies found burned in the bed of the truck are those of Calderon’s boyfriend and friend, Jose Carlos Mendez and Luis Fernando Sanchez.
The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office is working with the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke, Virginia for further identification of Mendez-Pena and Sanchez.
DNA tests will be conducted to identify Mendez-Pena and Sanchez, but that has been delayed however, as well as other testing of evidence because of what’s described as “routine court hearings.”
An attorney told WBTV News that testing sometimes can destroy an entire sample and both sides in this case want to be sure enough is preserved in case more testing is needed. A consent order is expected from the courts in a few days.
“I would call it a mass murder,” said Bowman, talking about the homicide investigation that began as a house fire in June.
Sheriff Chris Bowman said he was hoping that once deer season opened that hunters might find some evidence in the case, specifically the truck. He had no idea it might happen in Virginia.
In Nov., the burned up Silverado was brought back to Taylorsville. The bodies found in the truck bed are at the Medical Examiners Office in Richmond, Virginia. The truck will be held in Taylorsville as evidence.
“We will be consulting with the District Attorney about it,” he said. Meanwhile, the father of the two children who were killed in the incident says it has been a tough time waiting for the case to come together.
Estaban Pacheco says he doesn’t know why it all happened “Only that I love my two children and my ex.” He said he is hoping justice will be served on the two who are accused. “I am hoping they can be in jail for life.”
The two children found dead inside that burning home in Alexander County were identified as 11-year-old Angel E. Pacheco and his 13-year-old sister America D. Pacheco.
Investigators say the fire was intentionally set at a home on Pine Meadows Lane. Crews reported the use of an accelerant allowed the fire to spread before it was eventually contained by firefighters.
“It’s taken a toll on everybody because of the way you know the two children were killed,” described Bowman in July. “It’s just unusual for something like that to happen in our county.”
Police charged 30-year-old Areli Aguirre-Alivez and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Heidi Wolfe, with three counts of murder in connection to the case. They are being held without bond.
The Sheriff told WBTV News Aguirre-Alivez is in the United States illegally.
Aguirre-Alivez is being held without bond. Even if bond was granted, Aguirre-Avilez will not be set free due to an ICE detainer, the sheriff says.
He was also indicted one on count of violation of domestic violence order with a deadly weapon and one count of statutory rape of a child under 15. The statutory rape charge did not involve Calderon or her two children, officials say.
Court documents obtained by WBTV stated that Wolfe admitted to detectives that she went to the home with Avilez and that he shot and killed two people inside. When a female who Wolfe thought was a child ran out of the home, the documents state, Avilez told Wolfe to run her over. Wolfe says she did what she was told, ultimately running over and killing Calderon.
The documents also state that Wolfe’s mother told authorities her daughter said Calderon’s body was dumped in the Catawba River. That turned out to be a false lead.
Friends of the victims spoke out in mid-June.
Reuben Cobos coached both children in soccer and said he knew their mom as well. He says the entire community is feeling the loss.
“She was beautiful, the kids were beautiful,” Cobos said. “I am broken.”
Meanwhile, investigators are still looking into how the truck and the remains wound up in Virginia.
Sheriff Chris Bowman said he believes whoever was responsible for the murders may have had help stashing the truck and the bodies. If evidence is found pointing to that, more arrests are possible, he says.
Anyone with any information about the case is urged to call the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office at 828-632-4658 or Alexander County Crime Stoppers at 828-632-8555.