Alleged MS-13 gang member charged in Wheaton Regional Park murder

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ROCKVILLE, MD -- A teenager and alleged gang member has been charged with the first-degree murder of a man found buried in Wheaton Regional Park.

Back on September 5, police discovered a body buried in a grave in the wooded area of the park. Police put out photos of the clothes the victim was buried in with hopes of identifying him, but still have not.

Charging documents alleged that Miguel Angel Lopez-Abrego, 19, of an unconfirmed address, is a member of the MS-13 gang and participated in the murder along with nine other members. Detectives said his participation was alleged by a "ranking member" of a local clique of MS-13 who said he was one of the other nine.

Detectives added they trusted the information from this informant because he was able to take police to the burial site within minutes and has provided information in other gang-related murder investigations in Frederick and Anne Arundel Counties.

The informant told detectives that he and nine other members planned for two weeks to lure the victim, from the Annapolis-area, to the park, kill him, and bury him in the wooded area.

The charging documents alleged that on the day of the murder, the exact date was not listed, Lopez-Abrego helped dig the grave ahead of time and then waited at the edge of the wooded area with a walkie-talkie to alert the others when the victim arrived at the park.

It added that Lopez-Abrego was the first to stab the victim, stabbing him in the chest with a 15-inch blade. After that, the victim was stabbed over 100 times, decapitated, and had his heart removed from his chest and thrown in the grave.

Detectives said when they first questioned Lopez-Abrego about the murder on September 29, 2017, he denied any involvement and then disappeared. He was found and arrested during a U.S. Marshals raid in North Carolina on November 4, 2017. The charging documents said he was in the company of two other MS-13 gang members from the D.C.-area who were wanted on unrelated first-degree murder arrest warrants.

A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement that Lopez-Abrego is in the United States illegally from El Salvador and they placed a detainer on him when after he was arrested in North Carolina.

Lopez-Abrego's next court appearance will be on December 22 for a preliminary hearing.

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