Maria DeJesus

I cannot say that everyone who gets divorced or marries someone who has been divorced has the same experience with the ex-spouse but I can say that I have heard of enough cases, mine included in which the pressures from the previous marriage can take a toll on a new one. I have also seen and studied many cases in which the participants of the divorce actually get along well but it is a new spouse or significant other that comes into the picture later that causes more trouble than there was previously. It is difficult to determine through my limited research just which category this case falls into. What I can tell you is that the “new wife” now sits in prison for orchestrating the murder of the previous wife.

Carmen Quinones and Justino DeJesus had been previously married and they had at least one grown child, a daughter, Amy. It is not clear how long they were married or when their divorce occurred. What is known is that the couple had jointly owned a three-story brownstone in Harlem New York and upon their divorce they still jointly owned the building. In December of 2001 both Justino and Carmen still resided in apartments inside the brownstone. Just how many apartments were in the building is not clear but it appears that Carmen lived on the first floor and Justino lived above her with his new wife, Maria.

On December 1, 2001 Carmen was babysitting for her three year old granddaughter, Ashley. Carmen's daughter tried for over twenty-four hours to reach her mother after she had dropped off Ashley but it was not until about eight the following night that Amy received an answer. It was then that her daughter, Ashley, had been able to untie herself and answer the phone. Ashley told Amy, “Grandma's on the floor and she can't get up. She won't wake up.” Amy called 911 and rushed to her mother's home.

Once inside investigators found Ashley unharmed but covered in blood. They also found not one, but two bodies. The first belonged to fifty-two year old Carmen Quinones. The second body belonged to Carmen's boyfriend, sixty year old Ruben Frederick. The couple had been stabbed more than twenty times! At first it was believed that the murders had been a result of a robbery as part of the home appeared to be ransacked. However, very little seemed to be taken other than possibly a few electronics, including cell phones belonging to the victims. Remaining under a mattress in the bedroom was over $15,000. It appears someone did not trust banks!

Investigators immediately began watching if there was any movement from the cell phones and by December 8th, just one week later, they had traced activity back to a man named Rafael Rios. When arrested Rios ratted on his buddy Raymond Mundo and investigators began looking for him. He was found a short time later in Connecticut after he attempted a car jacking. These first two arrests led to three more. Rafael Rios and Raymond Mundo were accused of being the actual murderers of Carmen and Ruben but they would name names. First there was Sal Duarte who they claimed was their “getaway” driver and Javier Perez who was used as a “look out.” But, the “big catch” was when Maria DeJesus was named as the instigator of the entire thing. According to court records Maria was upset about the fact that her husband had to share ownership of the brownstone with Carmen and had hired Rafael Rios and Raymond Mundo to murder her, offering $15,000 in repayment. Ruben apparently was murdered simply because he happened to be in the home. Some have wondered if Maria knew that was the amount of money under the mattress in Carmen's home.

Of the five defendants three would plead guilty for their part. In 2003 Raymond Mundo went on trial. He was convicted and given a sentence of life without parole. In 2005 Javier Perez pleaded guilty to assault and received a sentence of twenty-three years. Rafael Rios and Sal Duarte made plea deals that required that they testify against Maria DeJesus before they could each be sentenced. After doing so Rios pleaded guilty to murder and received a sentence of twenty-two years to life. Duarte pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a sentence of twelve years. In February 2006 Maria DeJesus was convicted for her role and sentenced to life without parole.

Sal Duarte was released from prison in August of 2013 and released from his probation in February of 2018. Both Rios and Perez are eligible for parole in 2023. As far as Raymond Mundo and Maria DeJesus they likely will never get out of prison.

This case is not only another one in which the criminal were stupid enough to do things that not only got them caught, but got them caught quickly, but also shows the human nature of even murderers. Recently I blogged about the case of Jerry Mark. He was convicted of murdering his brother, his sister-in-law, his five year old niece and one year old nephew. I mentioned then that oftentimes even murderers are reluctant to kill children and in that particular care the murders of the children indicated wanting to wipe out the entire family, likely for inheritance reasons. In this case Raymond Mundo and Rafael Rios obviously had not problem with murdering Carmen (which is what they “contracted” to do) or even Ruben, as he was an adult in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, they did not physically harm three year old Ashley. I made sure to say physically because mentally and emotionally I am sure she has been damaged severely. They bound her likely so as they could get away without having to worry about her screaming and drawing attention too early, but they did not obviously kill her. The fact that she was allowed to live could have indicated that it was a robbery but it was the perpetrators own actions that in the end got them caught.

I am sure more than a few of us have visualized killing an ex-spouse either our own or one to our current spouse. And yet, the majority of the people who have those thoughts never follow through. It is the people like Maria DeJesus that cannot move forward and make the best of things in life no matter what else is going on. Well, she had plenty of time to think about her actions in prison. I would gander to guess she wishes right now that she was like the majority of people who only wish it to be true but not actually do anything to make it happen.


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