Santeria Priest Suspected In Murder Case Involving Backyard Burial



Investigators have identified the human remains found in the backyard of a family’s San Gabriel Valley home as a woman who went missing in 2009. They also announced a suspect this morning—a Santeria priest who also disappeared after he was accused of raping a teenage girl.

Pablo Pinto Maria, 46, has been on the lam since 2014, when police were investigating allegations that he raped a 16-year-old girl while performing a healing ritual on her. Now, police are looking for Mata in connection with the murder of Maria DelRefugio Chavez, whose remains were discovered in the backyard of a Valinda home earlier this month, City News Service reports.

DelRefugio Chavez went missing in 2009 after leaving her job at the East L.A. Indoor Swapmeet in the 4700 block of Whittier Blvd. on May 7, 2009 just before 9 p.m., according to the Charley Project, a site that profiles missing persons cold cases. Earlier that night, she sent a text message to a friend telling them that she was in trouble and may be in danger. That’s the last anyone heard from DelRefugio Chavez. Her friend reported her missing and her 1998 Honda Accord was later found abandoned in the 17000 block of PCH near Sunset Boulevard.

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