NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Valerie Reyes, the 24-year-old New Rochelle woman found dead in a suitcase abandoned in Greenwich, Connecticut, died from asphyxiation, not a head injury, sources tell CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
The State Medical Examiner in Connecticut has completed an autopsy, but has not yet officially released the cause of Reyes’s death.
According to the criminal complaint, suspect Javier da Silva claimed the victim fell and injured her head after the two had sex in her New Rochelle apartment.
In a jailhouse interview, da Silva tearfully told the New York Post that after they both fell off her bed “she wasn’t responding. I went and put my mouth on her mouth. I tried to put air in.”
“I’m a bad person,” he told the Post. “I did something wrong. I didn’t call the police… I thought they would blame me.”
Investigators scoff at da Silva’s claim that he tried to revive Reyes.
“He said he taped her face so she could not scream,” an investigator told Aiello.
Da Silva’s claim to the Post that he used the victim’s ATM card because he “wanted to get caught” is also belied by the evidence, according to investigators.
“Why did he cover his face?” when using her ATM card, one investigator told Aiello. “Why did he change clothes at the scene? Why did he clean up blood? Why did he steal her phone and get rid of it?”
The investigator described da Silva’s jailhouse comments as “victimizing the girl again. (It’s) despicable.”
Reyes was reported missing after she failed to show up for work at a Westchester County bookstore on Jan. 29. Her body was found inside a suitcase left on a roadside in Greenwich on Feb. 5. Her hands and feet were bound and packing tape was covering her mouth.
The victim’s family says Reyes dated da Silva for a few months before the relationship ended in 2018. The suspect is a dual national of Portugal and Venezuela. CBS2 was first to report on Feb. 12, the day da Silva was arrested, that the suspect was in the country illegally, after overstaying his 90 day tourist visa.
Da Silva is being held without bail at the Westchester County Jail. Because he’s accused of crossing state lines to dispose of the body, da Silva is charged in federal court with one count of “kidnapping resulting in death.”
Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, must decide whether to seek the death penalty in this case.