DALLAS, TX – A couple accused of murder last year has been found in Cambodia after allegedly removing their GPS monitoring devices after they had been bonded out.
According to law enforcement sources, Lisa Dykes, 58, and Nina Marano, 50, were arrested in Cambodia by the FBI this week. They are accused in the death of 23-year-old Marisela Botello-Valadez. https://t.co/jl6jSaTxHa
— WFAA (@wfaa) February 26, 2022
The two women accused in the case, Nina Marano and Lisa Dykes, were arrested along with a third person for the murder of Marisela Botello-Valadez in March and April of 2021. Both remained in custody and were assigned a $500,000 bond until May of last year.
Both Marano and her wife, Dykes, were able to post the bond in May and were released on house arrest and fitted with electronic monitoring (GPS) devices.
For a few months, both women remained seemingly compliant until the holidays hit.
According to police, both Dykes and Marano allegedly removed their GPS monitors on December 25th and fled not only the area but the country. Police were not made aware that the two had removed the monitors and fled until January 4th which enabled the pair to have a significant head start.
Marano and Dykes were eventually located in Cambodia by their country’s law enforcement authorities who were assisted by the FBI in some manner. Both will eventually be extradited to Dallas County to face their original charges as well as escape.
Dykes’ attorney, Heath Harris, spoke to the Dallas Morning News about her capture in another country. He claims that the two fleeing the area is not an indicator of guilt, rather they ran because they were allegedly worried about their safety. Harris told the Dallas Morning News:
“I don’t believe they fled because they felt they were guilty of murder. I believe they fled because they are concerned for their safety and they didn’t want to have to cooperate against the co-defendant.”
Nina Marano and her wife, Lisa Dykes, were arrested last week by Cambodian police with help from the FBI. https://t.co/rzhw0QOpKc
— KIRO 7 (@KIRO7Seattle) February 28, 2022
Police began their investigation after friends and family of Botello-Valadez reported that she had gone to the Dallas area from her hometown of Seattle in October of 2021 and had not been seen nor heard from since.
The investigation into her disappearance stayed cold until her body was discovered in March of last year.
Police reported that Botello-Valadez was stabbed several times which resulted in her death. A short time after the body was found, police utilized her cellphone information which led them to the apartment of Dykes and Marano.
Police were able to secure a search of the home and allegedly located traces of Botello-Valadez’s blood inside. At this time, police have not released any information as to how everyone, in this case, knew each other or any information on an alleged motive.
Dennesly Castillo, Botello-Valadez’s aunt, spoke to WFAA about the case and her anger at the judge who assigned a bond to the couple which allowed them to flee the country. She said:
“It’s definitely not been easy-that’s for sure. It’s completely frustrating-we were expecting this after they posted bond, and here we are now…
Texas couple who had fled while out on bond for murdering a 23-year-old woman. Lisa Dykes (58) & Nina Marano, (50) didn’t merely skip town, according to authorities.https://t.co/oOgqmUIHWo
— 70sBaby🇺🇸 (@ANGIEDEE70baby) February 28, 2022
“They got to spend the holidays together, I assume, in the comfort of their own house instead of being locked away. We don’t have that option. We don’t have the option to ever be able to sit there with Marisela again and celebrate or be out and about.”
Castillo is not only angry that Dykes and Marano were able to escape and go on the run for several weeks but even angrier that police were not notified sooner when they removed their GPS monitors. She said:
“I would really like some sort of explanation. If they had posted that they were missing sooner, they may have been able to find them [sooner].”
Astrid Sierra was out on bond for an arrest last June for two counts of aggravated robbery, and her bond included wearing an ankle monitor. Harris County Assistant District Attorney Yasmeen Belal said that Sierra was on bond for threatening a child with a knife:
“The offense which triggered GPS monitoring, she held a 12-year-old at knifepoint and threatened to cut him up.”
Despite the ankle monitor, on January 6, Sierra stole a man’s pickup truck in the parking lot of an apartment complex, according to Belal:
“She asked him for a light for a cigarette. He was trying to find it, she got impatient, pulled a gun, ripped off his necklace, ordered him out of the vehicle, and took off in his car.”
When police finally arrested Sierra on the new charges, Belal said she confessed how she was able to leave the home without setting off the monitor:
“She did confess to police when she was detained on these new charges, she was able to take that monitor off with Vaseline.”
Officials confirm that Sierra’s ankle monitor was never alerted that she had removed the device.
Prosecutors believe Sierra was able to remove the device on three separate occasions. While the device indicated she was in her home as ordered, she was also able to leave the home to commit a robbery at a McDonald’s Restaurant and at a Jack in the Box Restaurant.
Belal said that investigators are now looking into how Sierra was able to remove the monitoring device so easily:
“The fact she was able to remove it so quickly definitely raises questions serious questions.”
Prosecutors said it is possible the monitor strap was placed on her leg too loosely, but that a pre-trial officer should have noticed it during required face-to-face meetings with Sierra.
Pre-trial services will be investigating how the monitoring system failed to detect Sierra removing the device.
Sierra was remanded back to jail with bonds now totaling $850,000.
There are 2,300 defendants on electronic monitoring in Harris County.
In another case of tampering with an ankle monitor in Houston, police arrested murder suspect Gerald Washington this month after a year on the run.
In October 2017, Gerald Washington climbed into a car while on probation and shot three women, killing one of them. Washington was arrested and charged with murder and other charges. Despite a long and violent criminal history, he was released on $200,000 bond and ordered to wear a GPS ankle monitor.
Crime Stoppers of Houston spokesman Andy Kahan reacted to Washington being granted bond:
“When you think about it, here’s someone who’s on probation, deferred adjudication, just another form of probation, one of the primary rules and conditions of deferred adjudication and probation is not to violate any laws of society. Being arrested for not one, not two, but three violent offenses generally means you violated those conditions of your probation.”
While out on bond, he tampered with his ankle monitor in February 2020, and was able to commit another murder. He then fled and was on the run for a year.
Kahan said there should have been an alert and should have notified authorities as soon as the monitor was tampered with:
“The minute that person’s whereabouts are unknown, and we discover that he removed the ankle monitor, I would immediately get an alert out to law enforcement, to the public, just like you do when someone breaks out of prison.”
Washington was taken into custody following a standoff at an Opelousas, Louisiana apartment complex by U.S. Marshalls on February 2.
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