A man who’s accused of raping and killing Rachel Morin when she went for a walk on the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail in Bel Air will be held without bail while he awaits trial, a judge ruled Friday.

Harford County District Judge Kerwin A. Miller Sr. said he agreed with the state’s attorney that Victor Martinez-Hernandez, 23, posed both a danger to the community and a flight risk. He’s charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree rape and first- and second-degree assault.

“This murder was among the most brutal and violent offenses that have occurred in Harford County’s history,” Harford County State’s Attorney Alison Healey said at a bail review hearing.

On Aug. 5, 2023, Morin’s boyfriend, Richard Tobin, reported her missing after she did not return from a walk.

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Her body was discovered the next day. She was a 37-year-old mother of five who ran a house cleaning business.

Morin was found in one of the drainages tunnels underneath the Bel Air Bypass. She had 10-15 head wounds and bruises all over her body. And there was evidence that she had been sexually assaulted, Healey said.

The evidence, she said, suggests that Morin was initially attacked on the trail and then dragged through the woods to the tunnel. The Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that her cause of death was strangulation and blunt force injuries.

Rachel Morin was a 37-year-old mother of five who ran her own house cleaning business. (Courtesy of Harford County Sheriff's Office)

Law enforcement entered DNA taken from her body into the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, and matched it to forensic evidence from a home burglary and assault of a girl that took place on March 26, 2023, in Los Angeles. In that case, police had a man on surveillance video but did not know his identity.

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Investigators said they used genetic genealogy to identify Martinez-Hernandez in Morin’s killing. Detectives reported that they spoke with family members and learned that he had been staying with them until last month in Maryland.

Police last week arrested Martinez-Hernandez at a bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He waived an extradition hearing and later arrived at Martin State Airport.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection captured Martinez-Hernandez three times in 2023 after he illegally entered the United States. He made it across the border again near El Paso, Texas, around Feb. 13, 2023.

Martinez-Hernandez is also wanted in connection to the 2023 killing of a woman in his native El Salvador.

His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Amy Valdivia, described the hearing as a “largely academic exercise.”

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the judge later noted, has a detainer for Martinez-Hernandez. Interpol has also issued a Red Notice, which is not an international arrest warrant but a request for law enforcement to locate and arrest people subject to confirmation.

“Mr. Martinez-Hernandez stands before the court presumed innocent,” said Valdivia, who added that her client provides for his parents and 3-year-old daughter.

When the state’s attorney started to mention the Interpol Red Notice and detail the allegations of the earlier homicide, Valdivia strenuously objected.

A Spanish-language interpreter provided translation for Martinez-Hernandez during the court proceedings. He appeared via video from the Harford County Detention Center wearing a white jumpsuit with black stripes. He declined to address the judge.

Matt McMahon, the father of Rachel Morin’s oldest child, Faye, and Erin Layman, Morin’s half-sister, speak to reporters on Friday after a bail review hearing for Victor Martinez-Hernandez in the District Court of Maryland for Harford County in Bel Air. (Dylan Segelbaum)

The case has received national attention and become a conservative cause célèbre. The New York Post ran a cover story about the arrest with the headline, “Open Border Killer.” An attorney for Morin’s family said former President Donald Trump called Morin’s mother, Patty, to offer his condolences.

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Outside the District Court of Maryland for Harford County in Bel Air, Randolph Rice, an attorney who’s representing the Morin family, described the killing as a senseless and preventable act.

Rice said justice for loved ones is Martinez-Hernandez never getting out of prison.

”They’re relieved,” Rice said. “There’s been a little bit of joy this past week in the fact that he’s been caught, but relief is one of the biggest feelings I think they’re feeling right now.”

Matt McMahon, the father of Morin’s oldest child, Faye, and Erin Layman, Morin’s half-sister, also briefly addressed reporters.

McMahon said he had full faith and confidence in the criminal justice system and thanked members of law enforcement including those in the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police and Los Angeles Police Department.

“At this point,” McMahon said, “I’m happy to have this turned over to the state’s attorney’s office.”