serra_crime_scene_locator

Kelly Meadows Serra’s body was discovered near a tree line along a wooded area of Rock Creek.

The man accused of killing a 37-year-old Frederick woman in 2020 was allegedly seen on surveillance footage drinking with the victim near the crime scene days before her body was found and a few hours before a witness said they heard a woman scream, according to police.

Frederick police found Kelly Nicole Serra dead in a wooded area in the unit block of Waverley Drive on July 29, behind Ollie’s Bargain Outlet on the Golden Mile. On April 13, authorities arrested Santos Margarito Turcios Benitez, 45, in New York and charged him with first-degree murder of Serra, FPD said last week.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday Benitez was found to be living in the country illegally.

Serra suffered multiple stab wounds, and a bloody pocketknife was found at the crime scene, according to charging documents. Surveillance footage appeared to show Benitez and the victim drinking beverages together behind Ollie’s around 11 p.m. July 25, 2020, police allege. They disappeared from the camera’s view when they walked toward the wooded area, where Serra was found dead on July 29, charging documents read. Surveillance footage did not capture either of them leaving the area, police wrote.

Det. K. Wolfe reportedly found a witness in the area who claimed to hear a woman screaming, “No, no, stop, stop,” between 1 and 2 a.m. July 26 in the unit block of Waverley Drive, hours after Benitez and Serra were seen on camera together in the area. Another witness told police they heard an “indescribable” noise in the area around 1 a.m.

Authorities reportedly found clothing at the crime scene that looked like what Benitez wore. A fingerprint lifted from a plastic bag found about three feet from the body came back as a match for Benitez, charging documents allege.

Police believe Serra was dead for some time before an officer on foot patrol found her. A witness told police Serra was homeless and living in the woods in the area, charging documents state.

Through witness interviews and examining evidence, police obtained Benitez’s name and personal information, charging documents state. Phone records indicate Benitez’s phone was in the area at the time of the killing, then he traveled to Baltimore July 28 and arrived in Hempstead, New York, July 29, charging documents read.

Benitez was extradited from New York to Frederick County Adult Detention Center on Monday, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Benitez appeared virtually in Frederick County District Court Tuesday afternoon and waived his right to a bail review hearing. He will continue to be held without bail. His public defender did not immediately have a comment to offer Tuesday afternoon.

As part of the inmate intake process, officers certified and trained in the 287(g) criminal program screened Benitez and found he was in the U.S. illegally, according to the sheriff’s office. The 287(g) program allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to train sheriff’s deputies to ask about the immigration status of anyone booked into the county’s adult detention center and begin deportation proceedings if necessary.

Benitez must answer to the murder charge locally before ICE can serve him immigration paperwork and begin deportation proceedings, the sheriff’s office said.

“This is exactly how the 287(g) process was meant to work and if he is found guilty of that murder and serves his time, this individual will be deported back to his home country and out of the United States,” Sheriff Chuck Jenkins (R) said in a prepared statement.

Jenkins said Benitez was the 21st person the detention center has encountered through the 287(g) program that was charged with murder or attempted murder.

FPD previously said the area behind the Frederick Towne Mall, from the rear of Ollie’s to the side of The Home Depot parking lot, has a history of loitering, drug and alcohol abuse. Officers familiar with the homeless population said they knew Serra to frequent that location, charging documents state.

Surveillance footage allegedly showed Benitez walking through the rear parking lot of Frederick Towne Mall earlier in the day July 25, then in the area of Elmwood Terrace around 5 p.m.

He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 19 in Frederick County District Court, online court records show.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter:

@MaryGraceKeller

(75) comments

phydeaux994

Don’t forget people, the first thing that happens to this guy is that he goes before an American Court, and if found guilty, serves his sentence in an American Prison. Exactly the same as an American Citizen. Only after he serves his sentence would he be detained in the Detention Center until ICE picks him up to go before a Federal Immigration Judge. We would hope that he gets life w/o parole.

MD1756

Maryland needs to bring back the death penalty. Immigrant or not, illegal or legal it doesn't matter. Anyone of any sex, race, ethnicity, etc. who commits an act like this should be put to death.

Awteam2021

Serving what purpose? A transient, passing through, not part of the local immigrant community, hitchhiking to New York would first check to see if Maryland has the death penalty before committing a murder in a homeless area on the Golden Mile? I wish I thought of that.

C.D.Reid

Serving what purpose, Aw? How about the dual purposes of punishment and the prevention of future crimes for a start?

Awteam2021

Cd, Are you asking or saying? Punishment has five recognized purposes; deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution, and restitution. So, for what purpose?

phydeaux994

I think that life w/o parole is a harsher sentence than death.

C.D.Reid

Death is a guarantee that he will never commit a crime like this, or any other, again.

mrnatural1

Agreed phydeaux.

Not only that, but:

* The death penalty is not a deterrent.

* It cost us MORE than a life sentence because of all of the appeals.

* It is not applied fairly -- minorities are much more likely to get the death penalty.

* There have been literally HUNDREDS of people sentenced to death who were found to be innocent while they were on death row.

At least a falsely accused person with a life sentence has a chance of being released.

threecents

From PNAS article referenced below by Varthaud: "Contrary to public perception, we observe considerably lower felony arrest rates among undocumented immigrants compared to legal immigrants and native-born US citizens and find no evidence that undocumented criminality has increased in recent years. Our findings help us understand why the most aggressive immigrant removal programs have not delivered on their crime reduction promises and are unlikely to do so in the future."

Awteam2021

Unfortunately, over the past 10 years, there have been less than 30 murders throughout the entire county (excluding suicides or other homicides). I would be curious to know how many of those were committed by undocumented residents. I know one murder, recently was by a US citizen from the Thurmont area.

Just like I wouldn’t paint that area with a broad brush, I find it unfair to paint the Hispanic community of Frederick with that same broad brush.

KellyAlzan

I would speculate no more than 7. Seven maximum.

MD1756

If your number of 7 was correct and we use 30 total murders over 10 years that would be as high as 23% which is a higher percentage than all Hispanics (legal or not) currently in the county (18.5% of Frederick County's population).

KellyAlzan

Keywords:

maximum

Speculate

phydeaux994

In Frederick County, the greatest chance of being murdered is by a relative.

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

It has about as much notoriety as Tyler Court in Ijamsville, CD.

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

It's also as notorious as Addison Woods Rd, Frederick, MD

Comment deleted.
C.D.Reid

By the way gabe, would that be the Tyler Ct. where a certain plumbing and HVAC contractor is located? I'm just asking for a friend.

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

I am as intrigued as you are CD. You can drive down either of those streets and ask her yourself. As she said, it's all in the public records.

Comment deleted.
C.D.Reid

Interesting, gabe, very interesting. I believe I will be going for a cruise down there in the not too distant future. On a side note, l wonder how a certain employer would feel about a certain employee bragging about texting while driving a company truck all the time.......

gjthuro

Another animal who doesn't belong here takes a life...keep letting them in biden...what a disgrace to have hi clueless in the WH

KellyAlzan

Police senselessly kill

bnick467

The logic some of you people use is incredibly daft. What exactly does Biden have to do with someone entered the country illegally and committed a crime before Biden was president? That would be no different than blaming the murder on Trump, since it happened while Trump was president. Should Sheriff Jenkins contact the officials in Florida to arrest Donald Trump for this crime and start extradition proceedings?

KellyAlzan

And not all illegal immigrants enter illegally. Many actually DO enter legally

sdm817

Did you even read what you posted? You make no sense.

shiftless88

sdm817; it makes perfect sense to people who actually understand that a huge percentage of people here illegally entered on legal visas and then overstayed them. The conservatives ignore that and only pay attention to one of our borders. Read up.

KellyAlzan

What doesn’t make sense?

Do you even know anything about immigration?

C.D.Reid

Another prime example of the benefits of the 287 (g) program, and our sheriff's participation in it. The 21st illegal alien in the county charged with charged with murder or attempted murder, and that's not counting the ones who have had other serious charges levied against them, and the MS 13 gang members Sheriff Chuck has arrested, either. If Dr. Menocal can write a public apology to the sheriff for his misinterpretation of 287 (g) after Chuck explained it to him, I'd like to think anyone would be able to see the advantages of the program. Any reasonable person, that is.

shiftless88

You think they were going to release him on bail anyway?

KellyAlzan

[thumbup]

Awteam2021

Actually Jenkins said “Benitez was the 21st person the detention center has encountered through the 287(g) program that was charged with murder or attempted murder.” He didn’t say from Frederick County. My understanding, the majority of prisoners held under the 287(g) program at the detention center are from other jurisdictions.

gabrielshorn2013

The prisoners at the FCADC were arrested by the FCSO, MSP, FPD, and independent police departments within Frederick County, or were extradited to Frederick County from other jurisdictions on charges originating in Frederick County.

C.D.Reid

I'd say that's close enough, gabe. Thank you. [thumbup]

Awteam2021

Origins and Destinations

Were these detainees arrested locally? Where did those that ended up being transferred from the Frederick County Detention Center last year originate? Information on the place of arrest was not included in the available data ICE released. However, we can examine whether the Frederick County Detention Center was the first ICE facility in which these detainees were held. According to ICE records, for some (20 percent) of these detainees, the Frederick County Detention Center was the first place they were sent when they were detained by ICE. The remaining 80 percent had been transferred in from another ICE detention facility.

https://trac.syr.edu/immigration/detention/201509/FREDEMD/tran/

gabrielshorn2013

So what, aw? Detainees get transferred to other facilities. Why is that a problem for you? FCADC holds them initially then sends them elsewhere. ICE also compensates the FCADC for the detention. Your point?

Awteam2021

“The remaining 80 percent had been transferred in from another ICE detention facility.”

gabrielshorn2013

Again, so what, aw? BTW, this isn't the original report. It is a summary by Syracuse University.

KellyAlzan

Gabs is a babbling fool.

Posts something from a university elsewhere. Then has the dumbness to ask aw “so what”

Awteam2021

The point is this article nor Jenkins said that all the murderers or attempting murderers that he encountered where from Frederick County, as CD implied. He didn’t say from Frederick County. He said who he encountered through the 287 (g) program.🙇‍♂️

gabrielshorn2013

And I will say the same to you plumbum, "So what?". So what if outside agencies like ICE move detainees through the FCADC? Aw is trying to make a point that some of those murderers that were held at the detention center may have been from elsewhere. Again, so what? The fact is that they were ultimately sent to serve their sentences elsewhere, and ultimately deported. You have a problem with that? To see the babbling idiot, please look in a mirror.

KellyAlzan

AW - it’s like Blabs doesn’t even realize what she is sayings

And she does this offtin.

Starts writing stuff of a whole other context. And Dr Google gets carried away with posting links to things that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. And then gets emotional when we tell her she’s whacked out wrong.

You can tell Blabs is lonely. And we can see she is used to being told she’s wrong. Completely flips out.

KellyAlzan

Correction:

Isn’t used to being told she’s wrong

gabrielshorn2013

It's a pity that your ADD gets in the way of a post any longer than two sentences plumbum. My writing is clear, related, and documented as necessary to try to inform people like you. I thought you went to college.

KellyAlzan

[thumbup]

threecents

Thanks AW. I assumed incorrectly that Jenkins was referring just to charges of murder and attempted murder in Frederick County.

micky

Observations of an "Old Man", Nothing good ever happens between 12 am and 6 am!!

Hayduke2

micky - exactly the same words my parents always used too. Wise words to live by.

KellyAlzan

the wooded area mentioned does draw a lot of bad activity. The city should try to get the land owner to clear the trees

KellyAlzan

Or, at least the underbrush cut mulched up

AOC

There is absolutely no reason to cut and mulch the vegetation. Are you trying to totally destroy our climate?

C.D.Reid

[thumbup][thumbup][lol][lol][lol]

KellyAlzan

Crime prevention. Over rides

C.D.Reid

So, how do you feel about another illegal alien being charged with murder, Plumbum?

KellyAlzan

Same as I feel about any one else.

What really is bothersome is Ethan Saylor, a man with with Down syndrome being killed by a deputy

gabrielshorn2013

Were they on duty at the time plumbum? No. It's called moonlighting. You know, having a second job on the side to make a little extra money. They were acting as security guards while off duty.

C.D.Reid

So Plumbum, you don't feel any differently about an illegal alien killing an American citizen then you would about a legal citizen killing another legal citizen, in spite of the fact that the victim in the first example would still be alive if someone hadn't broken our laws by being here illegally in the first place? Right?

And gabe is right, Saylor's homicide was the result of security guards, not FCSO deputies.

Awteam2021

Wondering’ 💭 Murder by an American on an another American less deadly, more tasteful? Are police officers off duty still police officers?🧐

KellyAlzan

Davie - Ethan died under the hands of fcso deputies. Fcso badges and service weapons were not left on their dressers at their homes.

Not security guards.

varthaud

Not sure why you alluded to the fact that this murderer is an undocumented immigrant. Is it because they are statistically less likely to commit murder or did it make the headline more sensational (https://www.pnas.org/content/117/51/32340).

jloo

Well, if we enforced our immigration laws, this illegal immigrant (my father was a legal immigrant so I take issue with "undocumented") would not have been here. If he wasn't here, he would not have murdered her and she would still be alive. Can you follow that logic??

C.D.Reid

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] jloo

C.D.Reid

Those two incidents have nothing do do with illegal aliens murdering American citizens, fido, which is the gist of this article, so what's your point? You may as well equate the fact that the majority of black males are murdered by other black males, that's just as irrelevant.

shiftless88

as the right-wing logic usually goes (when it involves black victims and white police officers), if she wouldn't have gone drinking in the woods in the middle of the night with a strange man then she would still be alive.

gabrielshorn2013

Well, that is a true statement with an unfortunate outcome, shiftless. Risky behaviors often result in tragic outcomes, and poor choices have consequences. This murderer took advantage of her poor choice.

C.D.Reid

That's true, shift, but the fact remains she was murdered by an illegal alien. A fact that doesn't require any right, or left, wing logic. And, for all we know, she might not have gone drinking with any other man for that matter.

shiftless88

So what's your point, CD?

gjthuro

absurdity working overtime

C.D.Reid

My points, shift, are that 1) She was murdered by an illegal alien, as in someone who has no legal right to be in this country in the first place and 2) Maybe she would not have gone drinking with any other man. Maybe she did with this one for a particular reason. Like drugs? Or to exchange sex for drugs, booze, or cash? Who knows? Bottom line is another Angel Mom was added to the long list. You do know who Angel Moms are, don't you?

shiftless88

Sure, CD; it is a made-up name that the right-wing likes to come up with to capture the imagination of people like yourself. As we saw with Trump's treatment of a Gold Star family, the right wing only uses those people when it furthers their aims.

C.D.Reid

Well shift, I see you have no argument to the points I was making, so you criticize the name of a group founded by women over 20 years who had lost children to death. And I think that Trump using it for mothers who have had children killed by illegal aliens is perfectly legitimate. After all, they lost children too, and I think that losing them because of being murdered by illegal aliens, aliens who have no legal right to be here in the first place, is an even more appropriate reason to refer to them as Angel Moms. Somehow I think you people would be singing a different tune if a close, loved one of yours was brutally murdered by an illegal alien. A loved one who would still be with you if it weren't for a criminal here illegally.

KellyAlzan

Phy - reality is that your proposed solution is not realistic. We (as in America) need workers. And it’s the Latinos that are willing to show up and work, and sober, too.

C.D.Reid

Don't you think it's newsworthy to state that it was another illegal alien who has been charged with murder in the city? A city that welcomes "diversity" so much? Whether or not illegal aliens are "statistically less likely to commit murder" is irrelevant. The fact remains that here is another person who would still be alive if it weren't for someone here who had absolutely no reason to be. If your daughter or son had been murdered by one, don't you think you'd want the public to know?

AOC

2011:

The Frederick County Grand Jury has indicted the man suspected in the March slaying of a Burger King manager.

On Friday, the jury indicted Salvadoran national Jose Reyes Mejia-Varela, 21, on first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Jacinta "Patty" Ayala, 32, who was shot and killed in the early morning hours of March 18 as she opened the East Patrick Street restaurant.

Mejia-Varela is in federal custody. He was sentenced Nov. 30 to 39 months in prison for illegally re-entering the country after having been deported. Authorities have issued a warrant and expect to bring Mejia-Varela to Frederick County for an arraignment within 30 days, State's Attorney Charlie Smith said.

Smith said if Mejia-Varela is convicted, he would first be returned to federal prison to finish his sentence on the immigration charges before being transferred to state prison.

Mejia-Varela is also charged with armed robbery and use of a handgun during a crime of violence.

C.D.Reid

Wow, it's been 10 years since that matter. Time does fly by.

gjthuro

what an absurd comment...typical lefty speak

threecents

Varthaud[thumbup] Excellent article from PNAS.

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