Brother: Suspect obsessed with murder victim

February 5, 2013 8:28:48 AM PST
An 18-year-old Aurora woman was found brutally beaten and burned. Three men are charged in the murder of Abigail Villalpando.

They also set two fires to cover up the crime, according to authorities.

Villalpando's body was found in a wooded area near 5th Street and Wabansia Avenue in the village of Montgomery. Her body had been burned beyond recognition and dental records were used to verify her identity. Her devastated family could not understand why her life came to a gruesome end.

"My sister was my life. They took my life away from me," Ricky Villalpando, the victim's brother, said. He reported his sister missing early Friday morning when he was told she did not show up for her job at the Denny's at the Fox Valley Center.

Three men are charged in her death: Juan Garnica Jr., 18; Enrique Prado, 19; and Jose Becerra, 20. Aurora police say Villalpando visited Garnica and Prado at Prado's home. Garnica allegedly hit Villalpando several times with a hammer. Her car was then driven to another location where it was set on fire, police said.

"I was sleeping in my house and I heard an explosion and I woke up and smelled fire and thought my house was on fire, ran outside here, and that's when I noticed the vehicle was on fire," said Rebecca Deason.

Aurora police say Prado also helped Garnica set Villalpando's body on fire.

"We're all parents - she was a young girl, and you can't help but think of your own kids when you see an 18-year-old so brutally beaten and discarded," said Aurora Police Lt. Bill Hull.

Garnica has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and arson, and bond was set at $5 million. Prado was charged with arson and concealment of a homicide. His bond is $100,000. A third man, Jose Becerra, also charged with concealment, did not appear in court.

Abby Villalpando's brother says that Garnica was obsessed with Abby.

"You just felt it -- like he always wanted my sister, and my sister told him constantly, we're just friends... nothing's ever going to happen romantically between us," said Ricky Villalpando.

Abby Villalpando's family is now in the process of planning her funeral. They are remembering her as a fun-loving, hard worker who will be terribly missed.

Villalpando's murder is the first in Aurora in more than a year.