HOUSTON - Genesis Cornejo-Alvarado, 15, been identified as the teen who was killed in the alleged gang-related "satanic" ritual, officials said.
Members of the MS-13 gang are notorious for their brutal and deadly crimes.
Most recently, two gang members have been accused of killing Cornejo-Alvarado in what police believe was a satanic ritual.
“MS-13 has said to us in interviews that they murder for a living,” said Supervisor Special Agent Mark Sabol, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Houston office.
He has spent years investigating the gang, which he said has had an uptick in activity in recent years.
“Yes, we have noticed an increase in the frequency in brutality of some of the cases we’ve been investigating in the Houston area,” said Sabol.
Specifically, the FBI has seen brutality in the Southwest side of town, which is where police found the body of Cornejo-Alvarado.
“Houston is the corridor for MS-13, so most of the MS-13 members are transient and come through Houston up through New York,” explained Sabol.
He said gang members are coming from a variety of places. There are some American citizens, but Sabol said most MS-13 gang members are from Central America -- mostly El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
“We see MS-13 members that have a variety of statuses, whether it’s a U.S. citizenship, whether they’re coming across the border legally, illegally -- so it’s really all over the board,” said Sabol.
He said the gang members range in age from as young as 14 years old to the early 20s.
Exactly how they’re getting into the country, Sabol said, is a question for the Department of Homeland Security. KPRC reached out to DHS and a spokesperson said they’re working on getting answers.
“However, we do work with them (DHS) a lot and it’s one of our significant partners, so we help them identify gang members. So we help identify gang tattoos and different things to look for when people are coming across,” said Sabol.
Houstonians have kept an eye on the gang because of the teen who was found in Southwest Houston.
Investigators found evidence of Satanic worship while executing a search warrant at a gang member's apartment, police said during the news conference Friday.
Police believe Miguel Angel Alvarez-Flores, 22, and Diego Alexander Hernandez-Rivera, 18, are part of the MS 13 gang and may have killed Cornejo-Alvardo as a satanic sacrifice.
The two men are charged with murder in the case.
Investigators confirmed that at least two other underage girls, between 15 and 16 years old, were kidnapped and victimized by the gang.
Prosecutors said in court Wednesday that a 14-year-old witness told investigators she was kidnapped, held against her will for several days at an apartment on Glenmont Road and repeatedly sexually assaulted by members of the gang after she ran away from school one day.
According to prosecutors, the girl said that after four days she was given to a man named Flaco who moved her to another apartment where six other MS-13 gang members lived. The witness said she was forced to drink alcohol and take drugs while the gang members raped her.
The girl told investigators that at one point, the leader of the gang, Diabilco, held her down and tattooed the image of the Grim Reaper on her body from her knee down to her foot, prosecutors said. It was found that Diabilco is Alvarez-Flores, according to prosecutors.
In a court appearance Thursday morning, prosecutors said Alvarez-Flores gave a statement to police admitting that he was the leader of the MS 13 gang and he was acting on orders from someone else to kill Genesis, which was the name given to one of the girls at the apartment.
Houston police said the Department of Homeland Security is investigating the immigration status of both men.
“I’m always cautious to call a statement a confession because until I see it with my own eyes and see how it was obtained, it could just be a statement about what he saw or what he heard.” Emily Detoto, attorney for Hernandez-Rivera, said. “Even if it was a confession, if it wasn’t constitutionally obtained, then it probably wouldn’t be admissible anyway.”
The girl said that during her captivity, she met another girl at the apartment who was called Genesis, prosecutors said.
She told investigators that one night Genesis made an outburst against a shrine dedicated to the gang members' satanic beliefs, and Alvarez-Flores was offended. In reaction to the outburst, he gave an offering of a lit cigarette to the satanic statue, prosecutors said, but then told the group that the beast did not want a material offering but wanted a soul.
The 14-year-old said the next day she woke up and Genesis was gone, according to prosecutors.
The witness told detectives she believes that the body found on Feb. 16 is that of Genesis, the girl she met at the apartment.
In a statement to police, Hernandez-Rivera stated that Alvarez-Flores told him in Spanish, "Prepare yourself. It is your turn."
He said it was an order to kill the girl, prosecutors said.
Hernandez-Rivera said they left the apartment and drove to the murder scene, according to prosecutors.
Initially, police said, they were trying to determine if the girl was killed at another location and her body was dumped at the scene.
"The signs that I'm looking at would appear that she was killed somewhere else, brought here and then dumped," said Fil Waters, of the Houston Police Department's Homicide Division. "It looks like it was just rolled up, opened the door, rolled her out and left."
Later, witnesses reported hearing gunshots in the area in which the girl was found.
Prosecutors said Hernandez-Rivera stated he and Alvarez-Flores got out of the vehicle and sat the girl in the grass on the side of the road.
Hernandez-Rivera told investigators that Alvarez-Flores pulled out a pistol and waved it, signaling that it was "time to take action" and for him to grab the gun. Hernandez-Rivera grabbed the pistol from Alvarez-Flores' hand, turned toward the victim and shot her in the head, prosecutors said.
The two men were walking back to the vehicle when Alvarez-Flores fired one more shot at close range into the victim's chest, prosecutors said.
Cornejo-Alvarado body, clothed in a shirt, jeans and tennis shoes, was found about 7:35 a.m. near the intersection of Sharpcrest Street and Sam Houston Parkway South.
Houston police said a man who was taking his children to school found the body.
Hernandez-Rivera and Alvarez-Flores are both charged with aggravated kidnapping and murder and are being held on $150,000 bond for each charge. Both men have immigration holds, prosecutors said.
“There would be a multilayer process for them to be able to walk about on the streets of our county,” prosecutor Lisa Collins said.
The investigation into the case is ongoing.
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