17- and 18-year-old men accused of kidnapping, killing woman are members of MS-13 gang, sources say

ByErica Simon and Derrick Lewis via KTRK logo
Friday, August 26, 2022
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Two teenage suspects are charged with capital murder for the death of 45-year-old Sandra Montes-DeEscamilla on Aug. 10.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two teenage MS-13 gang members charged with capital murder of a woman who was kidnapped while returning home from work are being held behind bars on a $1 million bond.

Jordan Montalvo, 18, and Carlos Romero Munoz, 17, refused to appear in probable court overnight but appeared in Judge Ana Martinez's district courtroom Thursday. They are charged with capital felony offenses in the shooting death of Sandra Montes-DeEscamilla and accused of a series of crimes on Aug. 10.

Sources said Romero and Montalvo claim to be part of the brutal MS-13 gang.

On Thursday, the judge read their charges but did not make a decision on bail, deferring to a trial judge instead.

Attorneys requested a $50,000 bond for each case, adding that both teenagers have no money for bail.

ABC13 learned in court that Munoz has been in Houston since he was 7 years old and lives with his grandma. Montalvo previously had a job washing cars and lives with his parents and sister.

Montalvo and Munoz allegedly kidnapped Montes-DeEscamilla at her apartment complex on Highway 6, and tried to force her to get money out of the bank. When she didn't comply, the teens allegedly made her drive to another complex on Rio Bonito, where they put her in the trunk of her Volkswagen and shot her to death.

Montalvo's attorney, J. Julio Vela, spoke to ABC13 after court, saying, "We're going to get a fair shot and shake at litigating this case.

According to court records, Montes-DeEscamilla, 45, was seen on surveillance video driving into the Falls of West Oak Apartments at about 2 a.m. Three men in masks and gloves were chasing her car as she turned into her unit.

About 10 minutes later, Montes' car left the complex.

According to court documents, one of the men, Selvyn Sandoval, later admitted to deputies that they "targeted" the 45-year-old, kidnapped and assaulted her. The motive was a robbery.

After shooting the woman in her trunk, investigators believe Montalvo and Romero turned the gun on Sandoval and shot him several times. He was taken to the hospital via Life Flight and survived his injuries.

Eight days after the murder, detectives were able to match a palm print left on Montes' car to Romero, according to court records.

ABC13 has learned at least one of the two young suspects is linked to another murder in June.

On June 25, Patrik Maldonado was walking on the sidewalk in the 7100 block of Woodridge in southeast Houston when he was targeted. Houston police released a home surveillance video appealing to the public for tips. The video shows Maldonado being chased before he was gunned down.

ORIGINAL STORY: Man collapses and dies in front of home after 2 suspects exit vehicle then shoot him on sidewalk

Maldonado was 58 and a widower. His daughter told ABC13 that he had three children and was working in Houston.

Prosecutors filed a motion with the judge to have both teens held without bond throughout the case. In the motion, a prosecutor says the defendants "would probably be punished by the death penalty if the law is administered."

It is not clear if the state plans to seek the death penalty.

About an hour before Montes was targeted, residents reported masked men who wore the same clothes knocked on doors.

Sandoval has not been charged for the crime on Aug. 10. He is currently in jail on unrelated charges.