While the search for Rachel Morin’s killer stretched for 10 months and to Los Angeles and Chicago, the man charged with her killing was hiding out in Maryland nearly all along.

Charging documents for Victor Antonio Martinez Hernandez say that he had been staying with family members in Maryland until last month.

“The family also stated that Victor Hernandez had left around the beginning of May 2024 and never returned,” detectives wrote.

They did not, however, indicate where in Maryland Hernandez had been staying. The 23-year-old Salvadoran immigrant was arrested last week at a bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He touched down Thursday afternoon at Martin State Airport before a crowd of TV cameras and law enforcement officers.

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His arrival had been carefully planned. Five officers escorted the man in shackles off the plane, walked him across the airstrip, and patted him down before a waiting convoy of police SUVs. He wore a mask over his face, blue jeans and a yellow shirt.

Hernandez was in the country illegally from El Salvador, authorities said, and the case has ignited debate about the failures of U.S. immigration policy.

U.S. immigration officials said Hernandez tried three times early last year to enter the country illegally over the southern border with Mexico: on Jan. 19 near Santa Teresa, New Mexico; two weeks later near El Paso, Texas; and on Feb. 6 again near Santa Teresa. Each time border agents caught him and sent him back to Mexico, officials said.

During each encounter, agents vetted him and found no criminal information, officials said. At the time, the country was under the pandemic-related Title 42 executive order that permitted agents to reject people at the border on grounds that they presented a risk of spreading disease.

Authorities believe Hernandez successfully slipped into the U.S. around Feb. 13, 2023, near El Paso.

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Charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape in Morin’s death, Hernandez is scheduled for a bail review hearing Friday in Harford County.

In the charging documents, detectives wrote that Morin had been found beaten to death and sexually assaulted. They collected DNA samples from her body and found the samples belonged to an unidentified man. Additional DNA testing led detectives to the family of Hernandez.

“When asked if he left any belongings, the family provided detectives with two bags of clothing and a pair of shoes. DNA swabs were recovered from some of these items and processed,” detectives wrote.

Morin, a 37-year-old mother of five, went missing during an evening run on the Ma & Pa Heritage Trail in Bel Air last August. Search crews found her body in a drainage culvert of the hiking trail the next day. Her killing left families shaken in Harford County, where violent crime is rare.

“I told myself I wasn’t going to get emotional,” one airport worker said aloud during Hernandez’s arrival, choking up.

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Morin’s slaying hit close to home for many families in Harford County who use the popular trail.

Homeland Security Investigations police transported Hernandez to Maryland on a small turboprop airplane. He was transferred into the custody of Harford County sheriff’s deputies.

“Mr. Hernandez, did you do it? Did you target Rachel?” a TV reporter shouted at him as he was escorted off the plane.

Hernandez said nothing and made no gestures. Officers placed him in the back seat of a police car and whisked him away.

Authorities have released few details of the investigation. Investigators matched DNA from the scene to a middle-of-the-night attack at a Los Angeles home five months before Morin’s killing. Hernandez also is wanted in the January 2023 killing of a woman in El Salvador, authorities said.

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The arrest of Hernandez means the case will be in the spotlight in the coming months, as immigration takes center stage in this year’s presidential election. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden issued an executive order temporarily shutting the border with Mexico.

Politicians, including Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, have raised the case in discussing U.S. immigration policy. Former President Donald Trump said in a social media post that Hernandez had “fled to the USA because he knew crooked Joe would let him in.”

Attorneys for Morin’s family said Trump had called Rachel’s mother to offer condolences.

“I am deeply touched by President Trump’s kindness and concern,” Patty Morin said in a statement issued Thursday through the attorneys. “He was genuine and truly wanted to know how our family was coping. ... His words brought comfort to me during this very difficult time.”