Teen MS-13 gang member arrested for allegedly strangling 20-year-old autistic woman to death

Police said the suspect is an illegal immigrant from El Salvador.

Updated: January 22, 2023 - 8:49am

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A 17-year-old illegal immigrant who is a suspected MS-13 gang member was arrested in connection to the strangling death of a 20-year-old autistic woman, Maryland police said.

Kayla Hamilton was strangled to death in July 2022 in Aberdeen, Maryland, where she had recently moved with her twenty-two-year-old boyfriend, police said. The 17-year-old suspect, described as a male from El Salvador, was arrested early last week in Edgewood, Md., on a first-degree murder warrant and is currently being held without bail, the Aberdeen Police Department said Thursday.

"I never thought I would take this journey [of] losing my daughter in such a horrific way and so soon," Hamilton's mother, Tammy Nobles, told a Baltimore-based ABC affiliate. "When I found out that it was a juvenile, I was shocked. I was like, 'A juvenile did this to her?' Like I was really shocked. I could not believe a teenager could do this."

Officials said DNA left at the crime scene led them to the suspect. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to Aberdeen police that the suspect was listed in El Salvador as a member of the MS-13 gang. The violent criminal organization has mottos such as "mata, viola, controla," which translates to "kill, rape, control," and members are required to commit violent acts to stay in the gang, according to ICE.