Former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant, Mirjana Puhar, 19, and two of her friends, Jonathan Alvarado, 23, and Jusmar Gonzaga-Garcia, 21, were found dead last month in a Charlotte, North Carolina, home.
Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez, 19, and his accomplice, David Ezequel Lopez, 19, have been charged with first-degree murder and are being held at the at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office.
According to two Republican U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Rangel-Hernandez avoided deportation under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, WSOTV reports.
DACA was started by the Obama administration in 2012. The program grants amnesty to children of immigrants who were illegally brought into the country, according to the NY Daily News.
After facing drug charges in March 2012, Rangel-Hernandez was placed in the removal process by Immigration and Customs Enforcement but was approved for deferred action under DACA and deportation proceedings were dismissed.
The senators claim, from information provided by whistleblowers, that Citizenship and Immigration Services granted Rangel-Hernandez’s DACA application even though they knew he was a gang member, according to WSOTV.
Alvarado was reportedly Puhar’s boyfriend and Gonzaga-Garcia was her best friend. The murders are suspected to be drug related.
Puhar’s shocking and sudden death has devastated her “America’s Next Top Model” family. A statement released by executive producer Ken Mok and Tyra Banks read, "We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic news about Mirjana Puhar. She was a vivacious and promising young woman.”
"Our hearts and prayers go out to her loved ones," the statement continued, as reported by US Magazine.
Adam Smith, a fellow contestant, expressed his sadness via Instagram: "Everyone please keep Mirjana and her family in your thoughts and prayers. We love you dearly, and you will live on in our memories. Our cast lost a family member today. I still cannot comprehend that you are no longer with us, I can vividly see you laughing and hear your voice as if it were yesterday. #RIPMirjana #ANTMfamily."
Photo: NBC News, WSOTV