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Bond set for two facing charges in death of Aurora teen

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Updated: March 6, 2013 6:12AM



Bond was set Monday at $5 million for the young man accused of murdering an 18-year-old Aurora girl.

Juan Garnica Jr., 18, of Aurora, stood still, with no sign of emotion on his face Monday morning during a video bond hearing at the Kane County Courthouse.

Garnica is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, facing a possible sentence of up to natural life in prison, as well as one count of arson.

Police have accused Garnica of killing 18-year-old West Aurora High School student Abigail Villalpando by beating her with a hammer on Thursday at the home of Enrique Prado, 19, of the 400 block of Jefferson Street. This is the first murder to happen in Aurora in more than a year.

According to Aurora police, her body was burned beyond recognition and dumped in Montgomery. Her car was also burned.

At the bond hearing Monday, Garnica said that he has lived his “whole life” in Aurora, and that he was currently on unemployment, with no assets for bail.

Prosecutors said Garnica had previously been charged with stealing a vehicle, a charge that was later dropped down to criminal trespass to a vehicle.

Prado is also facing one count of arson and one count of concealing a homicide, and could face punishment of probation up to 14 years in prison. His bond was set at $100,000 Monday morning.

Prosecutors said Prado has a history of minor offenses, including retail theft, and that he was currently on supervision for a drunken driving incident. However, there was “no evidence he participated in the act of murder,” prosecutors said, adding that Prado has been cooperative with the police investigation.

A third man, Jose Becerra, 20, of the 0-99 block of Seaton Creek Drive, Oswego, was also charged with one count of concealment of a homicide this weekend in connection with Villalpando’s death. Becerra will appear at a bond hearing Tuesday morning, according to the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office.

Garnica’s next court date was set for Feb. 14.

On Monday, Aurora Police Lt. Bill Hull said Villalpando had known Garnica and Prado for some time, and that the motive for the attack remains unknown.

“We don’t really know why it turned to this,” he said.

Garnica and Prado showed up at the police station for questioning at 3 p.m. Friday and were interviewed by police throughout the night into Saturday morning.

“Some of their stories and timelines didn’t seem to match up. It seemed a little deceptive,” Hull said.

In the early morning hours Saturday, Prado indicated that Villalpando was dead and told police where they would likely find her body, Hull said.

Villalpando was a student at West Aurora High School, according to district spokesman Mike Chapin. A crisis team will be available at the school this week for students and staff. Villalpando had just transferred to West High from East Aurora High School in mid-December, according to Chapin. Grief counselors also are at East Aurora High School, district officials said.

Villalpando was last seen by a family member around 1 p.m. Thursday when she left her home to go to her job at Denny’s Restaurant, 4330 Fox Valley Center Drive. Around 5 p.m. Thursday, another employee called her home, saying Villalpando never showed up for work.

The family reported Villalpando missing around 2:30 a.m. Friday.

Police said that Villalpando’s badly burned body was found in a wooded area near Fifth Street and Waubonsia Avenue in Montgomery around 9 a.m. Saturday.

On Sunday morning, the Kane County Coroner’s Office confirmed that the body was that of Villalpando through dental records in an autopsy.

Hull said Villalpando’s death after Aurora’s no-murder year in 2012 is horrific.

“You can’t help but think of your own kids when an 18-year-old is so brutally beaten and discarded,” Hull said. “I don’t know if there was anything anyone could have done to prevent this senseless act.”

Hull said Monday police do not expect others to be charged in connection with the incident.



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