Police have arrested a New York man in connection to the homicide of a 37-year-old Frederick woman whose body was found last summer in a wooded area near the Golden Mile.

Hempstead resident Santos Margarito Turcios Benitez, 45, is in custody in Nassau County Jail in New York and awaiting extradition to Frederick, where he faces the charge of first-degree murder, the Frederick Police Department said in a news release Wednesday. He was arrested Tuesday.

Officer Shawn Fernholz was on foot patrol in the wooded area along Waverley Drive at about 8:20 a.m. July 29, 2020, when he found the body of Kelly Nicole Serra, also known as Kelly Meadows Serra. She was found near a tree line along a wooded area of Rock Creek, the News-Post previously reported. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore found stab wounds on the body, classifying the death as a homicide.

Without going into detail, police said a long-term investigation led detectives to identify Turcios Benitez as a suspect. The arrest was coordinated among detectives from the Frederick Police Department, Hempstead Police Department, Hempstead Investigations Unit, Glen Cove Police Department, New York State Police, FBI Gang Task Force and FBI Violent Crimes Task Force.

The area where Serra was found, from the rear of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet behind the Frederick Towne Mall to the side of The Home Depot parking lot, has a history of loitering, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as vagrants living in the woods, according to police.

In August 2020, police said there were several "risk factors" in the last few months of Serra's life, but did not go into detail. Wednesday's news release did not offer any additional details regarding the circumstances of her death.

The investigation is ongoing, and police ask anyone with information or surveillance footage in the area to contact Detective Kyrie Yackovich at kyackovich@frederickmdpolice.org or the Frederick Police Department’s non-emergency line at 301-600-2100.

Residents can also leave an anonymous voicemail at 301-600-TIPS (8477), text tip line at 240-674-TIPS (8477), or email fpdcrimetip@FrederickMDPolice.org. The case number is 2020-012936.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller 

(8) comments

gjthuro

Excellent Police work !!!

C.D.Reid

It seems to me that if this area has "a history of loitering, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as vagrants living in the woods," the City should have taken steps to clean it up a long time ago. And, if they had, maybe this murder wouldn't have happened.

Dwasserba

Who owns it?

C.D.Reid

I don't know. But if there are problems there, and the City doesn't own it, I would imagine they could compel whomever does own it to clean it up. Especially if there is a history of problems there.

francesca_easa

Agreed. Great job Blue! We are so lucky to have a first class police force. Don't F it up judge and jury.

threecents

Do we know the suspect is guilty of the murder that happened in July?

olefool

Police chief: " GUILTY!!! What's he charged with???? "

KellyAlzan

Great work, excellent job FPD

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