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Villalpando killing an ongoing nightmare for victim’s brother

Abigail Villalpando

Abigail Villalpando

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Updated: January 27, 2014 12:29PM

This is one in a series of articles reconnecting with some of the memorable people the Beacon-News reported on during 2013.

In February, when police found Abigail Villalpando’s charred body dumped in a local field, Aurora’s murder-free streak came to a screeching halt.

The new year had just begun, and police had their first homicide on the books. Villalpando, a West Aurora High School senior, had been beaten to death with a hammer. Her body had been burned and discarded. It was the city’s first homicide in over a year, and the crime shook the community to its core.

Who would want to hurt the vibrant, young woman? More importantly, why?

Police charged three men with crimes related to Villalpando’s death. Juan Garnica, 19, of Aurora was charged with murder, arson and concealment of a homicide for allegedly delivering the fatal blow.

Enrique Pardo, 20, of Aurora has been charged with helping Garnica burn Villalpando’s body as well as her car, and Jose Becerra, 21, of Oswego, has been charged with helping the two men dispose of her body in a Montgomery field.

According to Aby’s brother, Ricky, his sister was friends with both Garnica and Prado. She had known the boys since their family moved to Aurora from California when Aby was in elementary school.

“Why did they kill her? That’s a question we’ll probably never know,” Ricky said.

Ricky remembers the last words his sister said to him before she left their shared apartment that morning.

She told him to clean the kitchen and wash the dishes, then she headed out the door.

“That was the last time I ever heard her voice,” Ricky said earlier this month, still reeling over the events that played out later that day. Aby never showed up for her shift. She wasn’t answering her phone.

“Her parking space (at the apartment) was empty,” he recalled. “At that instant moment, I knew something was wrong. Where was she? She was not with her boyfriend. She was not with her friends. Something was wrong. I didn’t sleep all night.”

Police believe Villalpando stopped by the home of Enrique Prado to visit before her shift began. She wouldn’t make it out of the house alive.

Investigators believe at some point, Garnica struck Villalpando in the head with a hammer, causing her death. Prado and Garnica then allegedly torched the teenager’s car, and made a plan to dispose of her body.

The details of the crime are brutal, and ones Ricky can’t stand to hear.

“I was devastated. They were her friends. How could they hurt her? Why would they hurt her?” Ricky still asks.

The answers to those questions will likely come out during court proceedings, but the process is a slow one, and one Ricky is not sure he can bear.

“I went to the first preliminary hearings ... and then I just couldn’t do it. I look at them, and they look at me like I am nothing. I would not even be able to look in the mirror (if I were them),” he said. But, he might be running into at least two of the suspects sooner than he thought. Two of the three men were recently released from jail after a judge reduced their bail.

After spending nearly a year in jail, Becerra’s bond was reduced to $350. Prado’s was reduced to $1,000. Garnica is still in custody. His bail is set at $5 million.

Court records show that some type of “agreement” has been reached with both Prado and Becerra, but prosecutors would not elaborate on the details.

“They can go whereever they want, while my sister’s corpse is decaying under ground,” Ricky said. “My sister had her whole life ahead of her.”

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