Police arrested an illegal immigrant from El Salvador on Friday for the rape and murder of 37-year-old Rachel Morin. The Maryland mother of five joins the growing ranks of Americans killed by people who aren’t supposed to be in the country.

Rachel’s Case

Rachel Morin went missing on Aug. 5, 2023 after disappearing on a trail run in the small town of Bel Air, Maryland. Less than 24 hours later, police discovered her naked and beaten body in a nearby drainage ditch.

Officers quickly matched DNA from Morin’s crime scene to samples from a home invasion in Los Angeles – but it took investigators almost one year to connect the DNA to 23-year-old Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez.

“Our investigative genetic genealogy team in Baltimore worked countless hours to identify the suspect by using crime scene DNA and tracing that DNA to potential family members,” Bill DelBango of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office told media outlets Saturday.

Officials arrested the Salvadoran for first-degree rape and murder in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Friday. He is expected to be extradited to Maryland in the coming case.

The Suspect

Officials believe Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez sought shelter in the U.S. after he killed a woman in El Salvador.

Immigration officials nabbed the suspected gang member three different times in less than two months for crossing the border illegally, sources from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told The New York Post.

He finally slipped through the border on his fourth try in February 2023.

A month later, Martinez-Hernandez burglarized a house in south Los Angeles, terrorizing a mother and assaulting her nine-year-old daughter. The 23-year-old can be spotted on a doorbell camera leaving the house — and his DNA — behind.

This same DNA, as yet unknown to the police, was found five months later in Baltimore, where Rachel Morin was found raped and beaten to death — apparently with a rock.

Martinez-Hernandez roamed free for another nine months before police apprehended him “casually sitting” at a bar in Tulsa.

Fellow Victims

Rachel Morin is the second woman allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant in Harford county, Maryland. The first was Kayla Hamilton.

Police discovered Hamilton raped, strangled and robbed in Aberdeen, Maryland on July 27th, 2022 — just three days after her twentieth birthday. Officials quickly arrested a 17-year-old Salvadorean for the crime; He had reportedly been renting a room in the same mobile home as Hamilton.

Morin’s case further evokes echoes of Laken Riley, the 22-year-old University of Georgia nursing student murdered in March. Police found Riley, like Morin, beaten to death near the trail she had been running —allegedly by illegal Venezuelan migrant Jose Ibarra.

Both Riley and Morin’s deaths occurred within six months of 16-year-old Lizbeth Medina’s murder. Police believe Rafael Romero, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, stalked, beat and stabbed Lizbeth to death in her home in December.

Slipping Through the Cracks

Strikingly, all four women’s killers could have been deported — often multiple times — before they committed murder.

  • Martinez-Hernandez was deported three times before evading border security on his fourth illegal foray into the U.S. He is believed to have committed at least one crime — the home invasion — before allegedly killing Morin.
  • Little is known about Hamilton’s alleged killer because he is a minor. According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hamilton’s mother, however, DHS allowed the suspect to await immigration trial in the U.S., despite his known affiliation with the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13). The suit further claims DHS allowed the unnamed minor to stay with an “unverified,” unrelated sponsor. He reportedly ditched this sponsor to rent a room in the mobile home where he would later encounter Hamilton.
  • Police arrested Ibarra in both New York and Georgia — for child endangerment and shoplifting, respectively — before Riley died. Ibarra was wanted for skipping his shoplifting trial when he allegedly murdered the 22-year-old.
  • Romero was on parole for theft when he allegedly stalked and killed Medina. Officials suspect Romero had broken into Medina’s apartment at least one other time before he killed her there.

These men are far from the only dangerous people to illegally enter the country in recent months. Just last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested eight people from Tajikistan with suspected ties to ISIS.

Though Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents detained all eight for crossing the border illegally, the group was released into the United States after “no derogatory information was initially flagged … during processing.”

Background

CBP agents have encountered more than 1.5 million illegal immigrants at the southern border this fiscal year, on track to exceed last year’s previously record-breaking 1.9 million.

Number of encounters between CBP Agents and illegal immigrants per month. Courtesy of Customs and Border Patrol.

Earlier this month, President Biden took long-awaited action to close the border. His executive order, which went into effect on June 5, limits the daily number of immigrants who can claim asylum to 2,500 across legal checkpoints.

The order further prevents illegal immigrants from receiving asylum and authorizes the deportation of those who do not meet the threshold of “credible fear.”

Despite the orders’ implementation, DHS officials told NBC news that illegal immigrants are still being released into the U.S. to await immigration trial — even if they don’t stand a chance at getting asylum.

“Without more money from Congress for more detention space and deportation flights,” a senior DHS official told NBC, “Border Patrol will continue to be forced to release some illegal border crossers into the U.S., particularly those from countries that Mexico is reluctant to accept.”

If the DHS agent’s testimony is true, the government’s executive order will not solve the lack of security that allowed Martinez-Hernandez to enter the country, nor the “catch-and-release” programs that allowed Ibarra, Romero, Hamilton’s killer, and 8 Tajikistanis with terrorist ties into America’s interior.

Why It Matters

The Bible charges parents with keeping their children safe and neighbors with protecting each other. To look out for one another, we must remain aware both of threats against us and the way legal systems alleviate or exacerbate these threats.

Use common sense to keep yourself and your family physically safe.

  • Avoid walking or running alone in secluded areas.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings — don’t wander around with your phone in your face or earbuds in your ears.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, release personal information online — even to people you think you know.
  • Teach your children to recognize and be wary of predatory behavior online, on social media and over text.

Vote for policies and representatives that enable law enforcement to better protect your family, community and country.

Please keep Rachel Morin’s family and children — and the families of Kayla Hamilton, Laken Riley and Lizbeth Medina — in your prayers.

Additional Articles and Resources

Debate Over Immigration Labels Obscures Seriousness of Laken Riley’s Death

Illegal Immigrant to Appear in Court for Death of Texas Teen, Illustrates Violent Trend

Fentanyl Overdoses Rise, Connection to Illegal Immigration

Talking to Your Kids About Illegal Immigration

Familial DNA Testing on the Southern Border Shouldn’t Have Ended

The Border Crisis and the Deafening Silence of Women’s Groups