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GREENWICH TIME by Rob Marchant 6.February.2020 – Local law enforcement and advocates against violence toward women welcomed the conclusion of a criminal case of the death of a young woman whose body was dumped in Greenwich a year ago, ending Wednesday with a guilty plea from the killer.
Javier Da Silva, 25, entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in White Plains for his part in the murder of Valerie Reyes, 24, of New Rochelle, N.Y., whom he had previously dated.
“I hope that animal never goes free,” Teresa Rizo, who has been following the case, said on social media.
Da Silva, a coffee-shop worker who moved to Queens, N.Y., in 2017 from Venezuela, will be sentenced May 21. He is facing 30 years to life in prison.
Mary Lee Kiernan, president of YWCA Greenwich, said the Reyes murder was all too familiar, though she said she was gratified that the case ended with an arrest and a guilty plea.
“We were shocked by this horrific act of violence a year ago, and we’re pleased to see a resolution for Valerie and her family,” she said. The YWCA is the main provider of domestic abuse services in Greenwich.
Kiernan said the murder of the young woman by a former boyfriend was all too typical of the violence committed against women. “Epidemic is probably a good word to describe it. It’s prevalent. It’s on every street,” she said.
Greenwich Police Detective Lt. Mark Zuccerella said Thursday the case was a good example of coordination among different agencies — from the state medical examiner’s office and Westchester County (N.Y.) investigators, as well as the FBI and police in Greenwich and New Rochelle. “A lot of teamwork with other agencies, a lot of coordination and facilitation,” he said.
Greenwich Police Chief James Heavey said, “Although justice has been served, we remain saddened by the loss of Valerie and sincerely hope that her family will find peace and a sense of closure to this tragedy.”
The FBI arrested Da Silva in Queens a week after Reyes’ body was found, and the case was prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Da Silva pleaded guilty to a federal count of kidnapping after months of negotiations over a plea deal.
Following the guilty plea, Judge Vincent Briccetti set May 21 as the sentencing date. The judge also requested that prosecutors and defense lawyers file their sentencing memorandums in May, recommending the length and conditions of the prison term Da Silva should serve.
New information on the case released by federal prosecutors after the guilty plea indicated that Da Silva had sinister motives and a single-minded determination when he went to Reyes’ apartment in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2019. He had rented a car, a Honda, from a Flushing garage
and drove to her residence in southern Westchester County. He turned his cellphone phone to airplane mode before entering the residence — apparently following a common belief that such a setting will eliminate digital tracking.
The federal court papers say he “bound her feet and hands, placed packing tape over her mouth, put her in a suitcase and transported her to Greenwich, Connecticut, where he disposed of her body.” Her body was found by town workers on the side of Glenville Road on the morning of Feb. 5, 2019. The cause of death was ruled homicidal asphyxiation.
Federal prosecutors say he used her debit card to steal $5,350 in cash from her bank account. He also sold an iPad belonging to the Reyes in the days following her death, indicating robbery and a financial motivation were uppermost in his mind. The federal charges make no mention of a sexual encounter — though Da Silva had previously claimed they had sex and that she had struck her head.
Reyes was a bookstore employee in Westchester County who enjoyed nature and spending time with family and friends.
The killing of the young woman at the hands of a former boyfriend follows a common pattern. According to statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 55 percent of murders involving women are committed by intimate partners. For Hispanic women, the rate is 61 percent.
In Connecticut, 14 women are killed every year in domestic violence cases, with the presumed murder of Jennifer Dulos of New Canaan at the hands of her late husband, Fotis Dolis, only the most prominent such case. As Kiernan noted, “Both the Valerie Reyes and the Jennifer Dulos cases remind us of the lethal risks of intimate partner violence.”
A message left with Da Silva’s defense lawyer, Jason Ser, was not returned. Family members of Reyes did not return requests for comment Thursday.
Greenwich police advise people at risk of domestic abuse to call the YWCA at its hotline at 203-622-0003.