PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD. (WJZ) — Police have arrested three teens in connection with the murder of a 14-year-old girl.
Ariana Funes-Diaz, 14, of Adelphi, was found dead in a creek on May 15 in the 6300 block of 64th Avenue in Riverdale, police said.
The suspects are 16-year-old Josue Fuentes-Ponce of Bladensburg, 17-year-old Joel Escobar of Northeast Washington, DC, and 14-year-old Cynthia Hernandez-Nucamendi of Lothian, Md.
Courtesy: Prince George’s County Police
Detectives are working to identify a fourth suspect. All three of the arrested suspects are charged as adults.
An autopsy conducted on May 16 found that Funes died from blunt force trauma and it was ruled a homicide.
On April 18, the three arrested suspects, a fourth unidentified suspect and the victim all drove together to an apartment complex in the 6300 block of 64th Avenue in Riverdale.
Police said they believed she planned to go to the police about a crime they had all committed on April 17 in Washington, DC.
“What we believe took place was that they were afraid she was going to go to the police department or the authorities and say what took place in a crime they were involved in,” Maj. Brian Riley of the Prince George’s County Police Department said.
The group then allegedly walked into a wooded area behind the complex where they assaulted her with a machete and baseball bat, officials said. She then died from her injuries.
Police said Fuentes-Ponce and Escobar are members of an MS-13 clique based out of Prince George’s County.
When they were asked if there has been a rise in gang-related crimes in the area, police said they had not noticed a recent uptick.
The three arrested suspects are all charged with first-degree murder and related charges. Escobar and Hernandez-Nucamendi are in the custody of the Department of Corrections on a no-bond status.
Ponce is in custody at the Cheltenham Youth Detention Center.
“This is not two gangs at war with each other,” “This is a gang that turned on itself, turned on an associate and extreme violence was used,” Riley said.
If anyone has information relevant to this investigation, they are asked to please call our detectives at 301-772-4925. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), or go online at www.pgcrimesolvers.com.