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‘Extreme violence was used’: Teen girl found dead in Md. linked to gang killing

The body of a missing 14-year-old girl from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, was found Wednesday, and three people, including two alleged MS-13 members, have been arrested in her death. One suspect is still at large.

Acting on a tip, Prince George’s County police, D.C. police and federal authorities found the body of 14-year-old Ariana Funes-Diaz in a creek near 64th Avenue, just west of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, in Riverdale at about 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Three people — Josue Fuentes-Ponce, 16, of Bladensburg, Maryland; Joel Escobar, 17, of Northeast D.C., and Cynthia Hernandez-Nucamendi, 14, of Lothian, Maryland — had been arrested and charged as adults with first-degree murder, said Maj. Brian Reilly with Prince George’s County police.

The three, as well as Funes-Diaz, were involved in a crime in Washington on April 17, Reilly said. He didn’t specify what the crime was. When asked, the D.C. police said it was a gang-related kidnapping near the Benning Road Metro station in which a man was taken to a nearby abandoned house, threatened and robbed. Two people were arrested in that incident, but the police didn’t say who.

The next day, Reilly said the three, plus the fourth suspect who hasn’t been arrested yet, were afraid Funes-Diaz would go tell the police about the crime. They drove her to a wooded area near where her body was found, and attacked her with a baseball bat and a machete.

Funes-Diaz and Hernandez-Nucamendi had both been reported missing, Reilly said. Fuentes-Ponce and Escobar were members of MS-13, he added.

“This is a gang that turned on an associate, and extreme violence was used,” Reilly said. He added that as far as he knew, there was no connection with other gang-related killings.

He did say, however, that the death was in keeping with an MS-13 trademark: “Violence that’s disturbing. And they’re not afraid to use it … to send a message in some cases.”

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