BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police announce the death of a teenager in Annapolis, and he may have fallen victim to vicious gang members.
WJZ’s Ava-joye Burnett spoke with police, who way they are investigating other murders that may be connected.
Police called this “disturbing.” Three victims murdered since last year, and all three cases appear to have the violent-style carried out by gangs.
17-year-old Neris Bonilla-Palacios had been missing since August. Two months later, investigators found his body in a isolated area of Annapolis.
Police say there were signs of a brutal attack.
“It appears to be gang related,” said Marc Limansky, with the Anne Arundel County Police Department. “It has been ruled a homicide, it appears to be a gang-related homicide, very violent.”
Police say there are other cases they believe to be connected.
22-year-old Jose Hernandez Portillo vanished last year. Police found his body in Quiet Waters Park.
They believe he too became a victim of a gang’s violent tactics.
Sources tell WJZ 21-year-old Jenni Rivera Lopez was another victim, after gang members beat her to death in Crownsville.
Investigators found one of bodies in the woods behind homes, and some people who live nearby are scared.
“To me it’s very scary,” one resident said. “You don’t now what people’s thoughts are. You don’t know what’s going on, so it’s definitely to scary hear, and definitely to hear with three or so, it’s very scary.”
Anne Arundel County PD has created a gang task force. They say the goal is to create a visible presence and snuff out gang activity.
Federal investigators believe as many as 1,000 gang members have taken shelter in Maryland, and some have made Anne Arundel County home.
But police here say the county is not a safe haven for violent gangs.
“We’ve seen these three incidents in the past several months become uncovered and they are not going to rest, and we’re not going to rest until these are solved,” Limansky said.
Police believe the suspects in all three cases knew the victims they ultimately killed.
Police say an anonymous tip helped them find the 17-year-old’s remains, so they are encouraging the public to call in with any information.
If you have any information on gangs in our area, call police at (410) 222-4117.