CHICAGO (CBS) — Three suspects in the first murder in Aurora in more than a year appeared in bond court Monday, charged in the death of an 18-year-old Aurora woman, whose body was found burned beyond recognition Saturday morning.
Juan Garnica, 18, charged with first degree murder, had his bail set at $5 million. Enrique Prado, 19, who is accused of trying to cover up the crime, had his bond set at $100,000. The third suspect, Jose Becerra, 20, also charged with the coverup, had not yet appeared in court.
The last murder in Aurora happened in December 2011.
Police said that Abigail Villalprando’s burned body was discovered around 9 a.m. Saturday by a Kane County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit in a wooded area near Fifth Street and Waubansia Avenue, in Montgomery.
“I don’t really think there is anything you could say or do that could justify that type of act against anyone. It’s just tragic, horrific,” says Bill Hull of the Aurora Police Department.
Villalpando was last seen by a family member around 1 p.m. Thursday when she left her home to go to her job at Denny’s Restaurant. Around 5 p.m. Thursday, another employee called her home, saying Villalpando never showed up for work.
Villalpando worked there part-time, while attending school.
And her boss, Ben Richter, says the customers loved her, WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports.
“It’s like coming in and seeing a friend. Like going to somebody’s house instead of going to a restaurant.”
The family reported Villalpando missing around 2:30 a.m. Friday.
At about 10:40 a.m. Friday, Villalpando’s empty car, a 2003 Nissan Altima, was found fully engulfed in flames underneath the High Street Bridge over the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks on Aurora’s near East Side.
During the investigation into her disappearance, detectives learned that Villalpando went to visit Garnica and Prado, both of whom she knew, at Prado’s home, just a couple blocks from where her car was found, shortly after leaving her residence, police said.
According to police, sometime during that meeting, Garnica hit Villalpando several times in the head with a hammer after Prado left the room. Police said that it is unclear why Garnica started beating the young woman.
Garnica then stuffed Villalpando’s body into a tote container and hid the body in Prado’s garage, police said.
Sometime in the overnight hours Thursday, Garnica drove Villalpando’s vehicle to the area where it was later found torched, police said.
Around 9 a.m. Friday morning, Garnica met up with Prado, and the two went to a downtown gas station and filled a gas can with gasoline. After dropping off Garnica at the scene where Villalpando’s vehicle was parked, Prado returned home. Garnica then set the vehicle on fire and ran back to Prado’s house, police said.
Garnica then burned Villalprando’s body in a barrel in the backyard and enlisted Becerra’s help in dumping the body, police said.
Police said they have recovered several pieces of evidence but cannot elaborate further.
Later that afternoon, at around 3 p.m. Friday, Garnica and Prado showed up at the police department for questioning and were taken into custody.
Becerra was taken into custody Saturday afternoon at his home, police said.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this story