Three Queens men, including an alleged MS-13 gang member, have been arrested and charged in connection with the killing of a former Hewlett woman found dead early Wednesday in the trunk of a car in Inwood, the NYPD said Thursday.
Police identified the victim as Nazareth Tamir-Claure, 44, of Queens.
Allen Lopez, 22, one of the defendants facing a murder charge for Tamir-Claure's death, is a member of MS-13, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig. Lopez also faces criminal possession of a weapon and drug charges, police said.
The two other men charged with murder were Jose Sarmiento, 21, and Rigel Yohairo, 20, both of the same Foam Place address in Far Rockaway, police said. Tamir-Claure's boyfriend, Anander Henriquez, 28, of Queens, also an alleged MS-13 gang member, was charged with strangulation assault Wednesday for an attack on her earlier this month. Henriquez was not charged in connection with the homicide, police said.
A Brooklyn man, Rodolfo Lopez, 26, was charged with concealment of a human corpse and evidence tampering, police said.
Essig confirmed that federal officials were also involved in the investigation but wouldn’t elaborate.
"We are going down all avenues right now," Essig said at an unrelated news conference, referring to the homicide investigation.
The case began to develop shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday when police saw four men leave Sarmiento and Yohairo's home with a large "unknown object." After the object was placed in the Nissan Altima, the vehicle drove off. NYPD officers followed the Nissan and pulled it over in the vicinity of the Nassau Expressway and Bayview Avenue in Inwood.
As officers approached the vehicle, they noticed a strong odor and discovered the body of Tamir-Claure in the trunk, wrapped in a blanket and appearing to have sustained physical trauma, police said. The four men were taken by police to the 101st Precinct for questioning.
There was no cause of death as of late Thursday, according to a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner.
Tamir-Claure had previously lived in Hewlett, according to relatives and investigators. She was originally from Bolivia, a family member said.
A spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said late Thursday there was no information on any arraignments for the suspects.