Rachel Morin's Killer Has Been Arrested — More Details of the Crime Are Forthcoming

Maryland native Rachel Morin was the victim of a brutal murder. As details are revealed, we uncover the harrowing truth.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jun. 19 2024, Updated 12:15 p.m. ET

Content warning: This article contains details about a violent murder.

A 37-year-old mother of five was brutally murdered in August 2023. Almost a full year later, her murderer has been taken into custody. Cases like these are often left cold for decades, but thanks to modern technology, investigators are more efficient than ever before. Rachel Morin’s remains were discovered a day after she was reported missing and police have been trying to nail down her killer ever since.

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On June 17, 2024, it was revealed that an arrest had been made in Morin’s murder. Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 14 and will be extradited to Harford County, Maryland, to face the consequences of his actions. But what did he do and what happened to Rachel Morin?

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What happened to Rachel Morin? She was murdered while hiking a popular trail in Bel Air, Maryland.

On Aug. 5, 2023, 37-year-old Rachel Morin went out for her regular walk on the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail in Bel Air, Md. at around 6 p.m. By 11 p.m., Morin’s boyfriend, Richard Tobin, reported her missing. Less than 24 hours later, Morin’s remains were discovered in a drain tunnel near the trail by local Native American tracker Michael Gabriszeski and his stepdaughter, Cecilia, as part of a search party.

Gabriszeski spoke with The Daily Mail about what happened when they discovered Morin’s body and what state she was in. “Cecilia was the first person to see the body,” he said. “She was hyperventilating really, really bad. And then the police told her to sit down. When she sat down, she realized she was sitting in a big pool of blood.”

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He added, “She was laying on her back, fully naked, and she had brutal head trauma...it looked like her head had been smashed in with a rock. There was a 15 to 20-foot blood trail. So, it looked like she had been beaten and dragged into that position. It looked like [the killer] was trying to erase her identity. The right side of her face was gone.”

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Authorities ruled Morin’s death a “violent homicide” without releasing further autopsy details. Now that they’ve found the killer, however, Morin’s death is likely to become a pin in the debate on immigration policies. Thanks to DNA evidence, police connected El Salvador citizen Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez with her sexual assault and murder.

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Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez is responsible for the murder of Rachel Morin, a mother of five.

Shortly after discovering Morin’s body, police found DNA evidence connected to a man responsible for the assault and home invasion of a 9-year-old girl and her mother in Southern Calif. on March 26, 2023. However, authorities did not know whose DNA it was. They were able to pull photos from the prior crime along with witness statements to come up with a close-to-accurate description of Hernandez.

On what would have been Morin’s 38th birthday, FBI investigators worked with El Salvador’s investigative department to match the DNA with Hernandez through genealogy testing. The FBI put a “red notice” out on Hernandez — essentially a global wanted list — and Tulsa, Okla. authorities tracked him down.

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"Officers found the suspect casually sitting at the bar and placed him under arrest,” the Tulsa police department said on Facebook. “Initially the suspect lied about his true identity and denied any knowledge of the crimes he is wanted for. The suspect was booked into Tulsa County and awaiting extradition for his heinous crimes. This is the culmination of tremendous efforts from multiple agencies across the US.”

While we expect this break in the case to be an argument for stricter immigration policies, it should be noted that Hernandez was fleeing from El Salvador because he had first committed a murder there. He was not an asylum seeker according to the U.S.’s current asylum policies. In a similar case regarding the murder of 20-year-old Kayla Hamilton by an undocumented immigrant, the victim’s family is actually suing the Department of Homeland Security.

As more details come out about Morin, we wish her family peace during this difficult time.

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