El Salvador native arrested for 2023 murder of Maryland mom Rachel Morin

Updated

BALTIMORE -- An undocumented migrant was arrested for the high-profile murder of Rachel Morin, the mother of five who was killed along a popular hiking trail in Harford County Maryland in August of 2023.

Victor Antonio Martinez Hernandez, a 23-year-old from El Salvador, was arrested on Friday at a bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler said on Saturday during a news conference.

He is being charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape.

Harford County deputies are working to extradite Martinez Hernandez to Maryland, which could take 30 to 60 days.

Harford County State's Attorney Alison Healy will be the prosecutor on the case, according to Gahler.

How was Hernandez captured?

The sheriff said a lead involving genetic genealogy led them to their suspect in Oklahoma.

Officers said when they approached Hernandez at the bar, he lied about who he was and his alleged crimes.

"Hopefully he'll never have the opportunity to walk free again," Gahler said.

"Patience will win in the end"

Morin was found murdered after she went missing after going for a walk along the Ma & Pa Trail in Bel Air.

Law enforcement believe the suspect hid in a drainage culvert and attacked Morin while she was walking. Authorities were able to link her murder to an assault and home invasion in Los Angeles, California, that took place on March 26.

Her family released a commercial plea in April for justice in the investigation. Finally, there is some closure for them.

"At one point when things seemed really bleak and hopeless, the lead detective said to me -- he said, 'Patience will win in the end.'" Rachel's mother, Patty Morin said.

Rachel Morin a Maryland mother of 5 children was murdered on a popular hiking trail. / Credit: CBS Baltimore
Rachel Morin a Maryland mother of 5 children was murdered on a popular hiking trail. / Credit: CBS Baltimore

Connected to other violent crimes

Martinez Hernandez had crossed the border into the U.S. in February 2023 after an arrest warrant was issued for the murder of a young woman in El Salvador in January 2023, Gahler said.

Then, in March of 2023, investigators say he assaulted a 9-year-old girl and her mother at a home in Los Angeles.

The suspect has connections in the Washington, D.C. area, in both Virginia and Prince George's County, Maryland, and has ties to known gangs, Gahler said.

"Victor Hernandez did not come here to make a better life for himself or his family," Gahler said. "He came here to escape the crime he committed in El Salvador. He came here and murdered Rachel and, God willing, no one else."

Lead disclosed on Morin's birthday

Morin's murder suspect was arrested just weeks after what would have been her 38th birthday.

"On May 20, on what should've been Rachel's 38 birthday, and in a poetic coincidence or perhaps Rachel's own divine assistance, our investigators uncovered a lead that led us to this day," Gahler said.

"It's just a relief"

Harford County community members, especially those who use the Ma & Pa Trail, told WJZ they feel safer with Martinez Hernandez in custody.

"It's just a relief and God bless that family," Bel Air resident Pat Balducci said. "So, I'm glad for them."

Emily Hung contributed to this report.

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