Philadelphia police are investigating the possibility that the man accused of killing a New York woman in his Feltonville basement — and then leaving her body there for days after he fled the scene — had been living for years under a false identity.
The suspect, arrested last month in Virginia, is awaiting extradition to Philadelphia on charges that he fatally shot his girlfriend, Vianelba Tavera, a mother of five children, and fled in her SUV with a blood-soaked handgun inside.
Police initially identified the man as Luis Negron-Martinez. On Tuesday, Homicide Capt. Jack Ryan said investigators were exploring whether the alleged killer was not Negron-Martinez but had been living in Philadelphia under that name. Ryan said there were "indications" of that, but declined to elaborate or say if police had determined other possible names or identifying information, such as where he was from.
"Nothing is confirmed, and it all requires investigation," Ryan said.
Tavera, 50, had immigrated to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic when she was 18, according to her daughter Mailin, 22. She drove a school bus for a living.
"She was the best mom," said Mailin Tavera.
She said her mother had been dating the man she knew as Negron-Martinez since 2016 and would visit him several times per month. She said she had met the man and he seemed normal. She was unaware of any questions about his identity, she said.
The last time Mailin saw her mother was early on July 28. She expected her home the next day. When her mother did not return, Mailin said, she filed a missing person report and traveled with her siblings to Philadelphia to put up posters with her mother's photograph.
Police in Fairfax, Va., apprehended the suspect in Tavera's SUV on July 30. Ryan said a handgun found in the vehicle is likely the murder weapon. The suspect was charged with car theft and possession of a concealed weapon.
Tavera's remains were discovered six days later in the man's rented apartment on the 400 block of West Roosevelt Boulevard. She had been fatally shot in the head, and Ryan said video of the crime — captured by a camera within the house — allegedly showed the killer beating her before pulling out his handgun.
"The murder was brutal," he said.