Andrew D. Avilla was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found on Valentine’s Day behind a South Hempstead auto parts store. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp; Debbie Egan-Chin

An Elmont man allegedly strangled a sex worker and dumped her body behind a Hempstead auto parts store on Valentine’s Day, Nassau County police said.

Andrew Avila, 25, was arraigned Friday on a second-degree murder charge after detectives linked him to the Feb. 14 killing of Rebecca Carlson, 39, of Hempstead. Avila, who was arrested Thursday, was remanded to Nassau County Jail without bail, court officials said.

“It’s a dangerous business,” Nassau Detective Captain Stephen Fitzpatrick said of prostitution. “Unfortunately, she ran into the wrong person.”

Police said they believe Carlson was killed during an argument after Avila asked her to progress their tryst beyond what he had paid for. When she wanted more money, he had none to give her, they said.

The victim, who Fitzpatrick described as a mother who was struggling with addiction, tried to fight Avila off. “He became more aggressive and choked her until she died,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick said Avila sat with Carlson’s lifeless body in the car for awhile, before a worker showed up at the Mineola location where the altercation occurred, and he drove off. Avila eventually dumped her naked body near a dumpster at Advanced Auto Parts on Grand Avenue in South Hempstead, where she was discovered around 7:40 a.m.

Police said Avila, who has no criminal history, met Carlson on a website where people go to meet others for sex, and they believe the two had met on a prior occasion.

After disposing of her body, Avila continued on to work, Fitzpatrick said.

Investigators used license plate readers and cellphone records to connect Avila to Carlson, police said.

Detectives are continuing to investigate if Avila had hurt other women he met online, Fitzpatrick said.

Avila is due back in Nassau County Criminal Court March 7.

With Michael O'Keeffe

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