Two South Jersey men have confessed to the brutal murder of Fatima Perez. Under the guise of taking her to buy a new car, the men kidnapped Perez, poured lime on her, and buried her alive.
Perez’s body was found in a shallow grave in Monroe Township, N.J. Wednesday morning, according to NBC 10. It was one of the suspected killers, 57-year-old Ramon Ortiz, who led police to the site.
Ortiz was an employee of Carlos Alicea-Antonetti, the 36-year-old owner of Villa Coamo Landscaping and General Maintenance. The two men knew the victim from doing landscaping work on her house.
With $8,000 cash in her pocket, Perez was picked up by Alicea-Antonetti to go buy a new car she’d found on Craigslist. Police say that during the ride the two got into an argument and Perez fell out of the van. She then managed to get back in the vehicle, and Alicea-Antonetti picked up his employee.
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At this point, the two men tied up Perez and put duct tape over her mouth and eyes. They drove to a remote wooded area, where Alicea-Antonetti reportedly ordered Ortiz to dig a hole. They placed Perez in the grave, covered her with lime, and buried her, covering the spot with branches to disguise it.
The coroner’s report states asphyxiation as the cause of death. The probable cause statement reveals that the men knew Perez was alive when they buried her.
Alicea-Antonetti had about $7,000 on him at the time of his arrest, leading the victim’s family to believe that the gruesome murder was money motivated.
"For a woman of her character and stature to have died in this manner is horrible and very traumatic to her family," said Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk.
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Alicea-Antonetti and Ortiz were arraigned on murder charges in Superior Court in Camden Thursday with bail set at $5 million each, the Courier-Post reports. They will likely face life in prison.
Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson said after the hearing that detectives had worked for almost 24 hours straight on the case and become extremely emotionally invested.
"I know that upon the finding of Fatima's body, it cast a pall over the entire investigative bureau, as hearts were very heavy for the family," Thompson said.
The victim, a 41-year-old mother of two, emigrated from Nicaragua eight years ago in order to find a better life.