Fifteen-year-old Damaris Reyes Rivas’ death was caused by multiple forms of trauma to the upper body, the medical examiner reports. But Fairfax County Chief of Police Edwin Roessler called the Gaithersburg, Md., resident’s killing “savage and brutal.”
Remains of the teenager’s body were found in the 7100 block of Wimsatt Road in Springfield on Feb. 11. After attending a multi-jurisdictional meeting led by the Prince William County Police Department, FCPD determined there were two Fairfax County juveniles linked to a homicide investigation.
“We discovered video evidence that suggested Damaris had been murdered in the Lake Accotink area of Fairfax County,” Roessler said at a press conference Feb. 15.
FCPD was able to identify 10 suspects involved in the case, bringing charges of abduction, gang participation and murder.
As of the 15th, Roessler said 10 arrests had been made, six of which were of juveniles. Five murder charges were issued, three of those were against juvenile suspects — aged 17.
“As demonstrated in this case,” Roessler said, “the law enforcement agencies and our community members in the D.C. region always team up to make sure that the tireless work of our men and women protects our community at all times.”
Roessler said the arrests were a result of a multijurisdictional effort, including the Montgomery County Police Department, Prince William Police Department, Northern Virginia Gang Task Force, Prince George’s County, Lynchburg, the FBI and Homeland Security investigations department.
Roessler said that “gangs are an issue” in the case but would not discuss which gang is suspected to be involved in the murder.
Jay Lanham, director of the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force, said illegal gangs are recruiting juveniles at a greater clip than ever before. “We’re seeing a lot of increase in recruiting in high schools and middle schools,” he said, “which is alarming to us.”
Lanham said gangs offer protection, security, things youths think they need. But they’re also dangerous to separate from, he said.
Lanham and Roessler both encouraged parents to be on the lookout for their children, to be involved with their lives and knowledgeable of their whereabouts.
“This is difficult to combat,” Roessler said, “but we have great detectives. We’ll be tireless in making arrests. And teamwork is what’s needed. That’s what we did to bring 10 individuals to justice.”
Roessler said it’s not known whether the dead teenager was being trafficked, nor would he comment on a motive for the killing or details of the injuries.