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3 charged with Aurora's first homicide in more than year

(MCT) — Three men have been charged with Aurora's first homicide in more than a year, an 18-year-old woman whose beaten and burned body was found over the weekend in a wooded area.

Police say Juan Garnica Jr., 18, beat Abigail Villalpando with a hammer at the home of Enrique Prado, 19, Thursday afternoon. The two then bought a can of gasoline at a station Friday morning, and Garnica burned Vallalpando's body is a barrel in the backyard of Prado's home in the 400 block of Jefferson Street, police said.

Jose Becerra, 20, then helped dumped the woman's body in a wooded area near Fifth Street and Wabansia Avenue in Montgomery, where it was discovered around 9 a.m. Saturday, Aurora police said. It was burned beyond recognition and her identity was made through dental records during an autopsy, authorities said.

The last homicide in Aurora occurred more than 400 days ago, in 2011, according to city spokesman Dan Ferrelli.

Villalpando had been reported missing by a family member around 2:30 a.m. Friday after she failed to show up for work at Denny’s restaurant Thursday afternoon, police said. Her car, a 2003 Nissan Altima, was found engulfed in flames underneath the High Street bridge on the city’s east side around 10:40 a.m. Friday, police said. 

During the investigation into her disappearance, detectives learned she went to visit Garnica and Prado, both of whom she knew, at Prado’s home shortly after leaving her home, according to police.

Garnica hit Villalpando several times in the head with a hammer, then stuffed her body into a container and hid it in Prado’s garage, according to police. Garnica drove Villalpando’s car to the bridge, a police statement said.

Around 9 a.m. Friday, he met Prado, and the two went to a downtown gas station and filled a gas can, police said.  Prado dropped Garnica off at the woman's car and returned to his home, the statement said.

Garnica set the car on fire and ran back to Prado’s house, police said. He then burned Villalpando’s body in a barrel in the backyard and enlisted Becerra’s help in dumping the body in Montgomery, according to the statement. 

Garnica and Prado showed up at the police department for questioning around 3 p.m. Friday and were taken into custody. Becerra was taken into custody Saturday afternoon at his home, the statement said.

Garnica, of the 400 block of East Ashland Avenue, was charged with first degree murder and arson, Prado was charged with arson and concealment of a homicide, and Becerra, of the 0-99 block of Seaton Creek Drive in Oswego, was charged with concealment of a homicide, according to police.

Police gave no motive for the attack.

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