Four men arrested last month for the brutal beating and killing of a former Hewlett woman found in the trunk of a car in Inwood have been indicted on murder charges, officials announced Wednesday.
The defendants — Allan Lopez, Jose Sarmiento, Anander Henriquez and Rigel Yohairo, all of Queens — acted together in attacking Nazareth Claure, 31, also of Queens, late at night on April 11, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. The group struck Claure with a machete and baseball bat and then stuffed her body into the trunk of a car, Katz said.
The arrest last month of the four men, all in their 20s, stemmed from a joint NYPD and federal investigation into suspected MS-13 gang activity, according to law enforcement sources.
Police had stopped the vehicle by the intersection of Nassau Expressway and Bayview Avenue after spotting a group of men, already under surveillance, place a large object in the trunk. When cops approached the car they noticed an odor of decomposition and then discovered Claure’s body wrapped in a blanket, according investigators.
On Tuesday, the defendants were indicted or murder charges as well as other offenses and arraigned in Queens State Supreme Court, according to a spokeswoman for Katz. They were all ordered held without bail by Judge Michael Aloise and are scheduled to return to court July 27. If convicted the four men face possible sentences of 25 years to life in prison.
Claure had immigrated from Bolivia about 10 years ago and had previously lived in Hewlett, according to relatives and investigators.
According to law enforcement officials, Claure had a son and had been in an estranged relationship with defendant Henriquez.
In a statement, Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of the federal Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said the case was "yet another reminder of the depraved indifference to human life that continues to be the calling card of various street gangs in [New York.]"
Defense attorney Vivian Cedeno, who represents Sarmiento, said prosecutors had not provided any information about the suspected motive in the case and couldn’t comment further. Defense attorneys for the other defendants couldn’t be reached for comment.