The medical examiner has not said whether Valerie Reyes suffocated to death before her body was stuffed inside the suitcase or after
The 24-year-old woman whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase on the side of the road in Greenwich, Connecticut, in February, died from a lack of oxygen, authorities announced Monday.
The official cause of death for Valerie Reyes of New Rochelle, New York, was listed as homicidal asphyxia, the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington said Monday, multiple outlets including the Associated Press, the Greenwich Time and NBC New York report.
The ME’s office did not specify whether Reyes died before her ex-boyfriend, Javier Da Silva, 24, allegedly stuffed her in the suitcase — or if she suffocated while she was bound and trapped inside the large piece of luggage.
Reyes’ body was found in a red suitcase, with her hands and feet bound, on the side of the road in Greenwich on Feb. 5.
On Feb. 11, Da Silva was arrested in Queens on a federal charge of kidnapping resulting in death, which carries a sentence of death or life imprisonment, Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York previously confirmed to PEOPLE.
Da Silva, who had recently come to the U.S. from Venezuela, was arrested after authorities caught him fraudulently using an ATM card belonging to Reyes, Greenwich police allege.
During questioning, Da Silva allegedly admitted his role in murdering Reyes, police said.
On Feb. 12, Da Silva made an initial appearance before a federal magistrate in White Plains, who ordered him held without bail, ABC News reports.
He has not yet been formally arraigned or entered a plea. He remains in federal custody, Biase tells PEOPLE.
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On April 12, Biase told the AP that federal prosecutors are discussing a possible plea deal with Da Silva’s attorneys to “find a resolution of the case without a trial.”
PEOPLE’s calls to his attorneys for comment were not immediately returned.
On the night of Jan. 28, the last time Reyes’ mother, Norma Sanchez spoke to her daughter, the panicked young woman told her she felt scared that something bad was going to happen to her, the Journal News, local news station WABC and The New York Times reported.
Reyes lived alone in a basement apartment in New Rochelle, local station WABC reported.
“She was going on about how frightened she was in that apartment,” Sanchez said, the Times reports.
During that call, Reyes was “very scared,” Sanchez said, the Journal News reports. “She just said, ‘I’m scared. I’m paranoid, mommy. I’m getting anxiety attacks.’ She was having a hard time talking.”
“I asked her, ‘Why do you feel this way? Was there someone at your house?’ I asked about her ex-boyfriend. And she said, ‘No,’” Sanchez said, according to the Journal News.
Then she told her mom, “I feel like somebody’s going to murder me,” the Times reports.
If you suspect domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.