September 17, 2021
An Upper Darby man has been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of Karina Torres, whose body was discovered Thursday off the Schuylkill River Trail in Montgomery County.
The arrest of Freddy Remigio Mendieta Pando, 23, followed a homicide investigation that began when he turned himself in to authorities in Upper Darby, authorities in Montgomery County said Friday.
Torres' body was found just off the Betzwood Trailhead in Lower Providence Township, Montgomery County in an area police said they searched after Mendieta Pando had identified it on a map. Torres, 23, was located face down, about 15 feet off the trail, and had suffered multiple stab wounds, according to prosecutors.
Torres was Mendieta Pando's ex-girlfriend. She had obtained a protection from abuse order against him in July after Upper Darby police responded to their home for a domestic disturbance, investigators said. Torres allegedly had been strangled and assaulted at the property, and the order remained in effect at the time she was killed.
Mendieta Pando already was facing charges for that alleged incident but remained free on bail after a preliminary hearing in August.
Just before noon on Thursday, Mendieta Pando approached two officers at the Upper Darby Police Station and used Google Translate on his cell phone to communicate with them, authorities said.
"I killed my partner," his message allegedly said, according to police
In a recorded video statement to police, Mendieta Pando said he had met up with Torres on Saturday to discuss the assault case and they had driven to the area of the Betzwood Trailhead, a place he had frequented in the past, investigators said. The 6-mile stretch sits within the boundaries of Valley Forge National Historical Park.
According to investigators, Mendieta Pando said he and Torres arrived at the trail around 5 p.m. An argument ensued, and Mendieta Pando claimed Torres took out a knife. He disarmed the woman and then allegedly stabbed her multiple times in the chest, despite admitting that she no longer posed a threat to him, police said.
At one point during the struggle, Mendieta Pando allegedly covered Torres' mouth to stifle her screams, according to police.
Mendieta Pando allegedly hid Torres' body under some trees, threw the knife and Torres' phone into the Schuylkill River and then drove home to Upper Darby, where he dumped his clothing and sneakers in a trash can several blocks away from his residence, according to the police reports.
It would be several days before Mendieta Pando would show up at the Upper Darby Police Station to allegedly confess, prosecutors said.
"This tragic killing of Karina Torres is the worst end result of domestic violence," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said. "The victim was previously strangled and sought help from police, who charged the defendant. Karina then obtained a protection of abuse order.
"But sadly, the defendant was able to reach her and ultimately killed her. People who are strangled by a spouse or intimate partner need to know that they are in serious danger – they are likely to be killed by that person, as in this terrible case."
Women experiencing domestic violence are urged to reach out to Laurel House or the Women's Center of Montgomery County for assistance.
Mendieta Pando is charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder and possessing an instrument of crime. He is in the process of being arraigned and will be held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.