HAGERSTOWN, Md. – Investigators have identified a set of remains found in Frederick County as those of Deysi M. Benitez, a Salvadoran immigrant missing since her husband killed their four children and himself more than a year ago.
Authorities planned to provide more information Thursday at a news conference in Frederick about a set of skeletal remains found Feb. 29 in a shallow grave.
Cindy Feadstein of the state's medical examiner's office in Baltimore said Thursday that investigators have identified remains in a Frederick County Sheriff's Department case as those of Benitez. She declined to provide details, referring questions to the sheriff's office.
Sheriff's Capt. Tim Clarke and Frederick City Police Detective Sgt. Bruce DeGrange declined to comment until the news conference.
The remains were found in a patch of secluded, wooded land along U.S. 15 near Emmitsburg. The crude grave was about 20 miles north of Frederick, where Benitez, 25, lived with her husband, Pedro Rodriguez, 28, and their children, Elsa, 9; Vanessa, 4; Angel, 3; and Carena, 1.
Authorities said earlier that they hoped to match the remains found near Emmitsburg to DNA samples taken from the family's townhouse, about 45 miles northwest of Washington.
Benitez was last seen alive by neighbors March 18, 2007, eight days before police found the children dead in their beds and Rodriguez hanging from a stairwell. Police concluded he had smothered the girls and killed the boy with a blow to the head, and then killed himself.
Eleven days before the bodies were found, Rodriguez had learned that he would lose his job at a door-manufacturing plant, increasing the financial stress on a family that had been taking in boarders to help make its $1,034 monthly mortgage payments.
Former Frederick City Police Lt. Thomas Chase, who investigated the case for two months until his retirement last year, said he hoped the resolution of the case would bring closure to the families of Benitez and Rodriguez, who both came from north-central El Salvador.
"I'm deeply saddened that she was killed as well. I had hoped that she wasn't and I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the family members because this situation has gone on very long and it must have been very, very hard on them," Chase said.