Domestic Violence

Man Charged With Murdering His Former Partner After Leading Police to Her Body

The man had previously been charged with strangling Karina Torres

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A man who had already been arrested once for strangling his partner has now been arrested for stabbing her to death.

Karina Torres' body was found hidden in bushes yesterday in Lower Providence Township, just off the Schuylkill River Trail. Police believe she had been stabbed to death in the afternoon or evening of Sept. 11.

Freddy Remigio Mendieta Pando, 23, of Upper Darby, turned himself into police yesterday and led them to Torres' body, said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.

Mendieta Pando, of the 200 block of Copley Road, is now charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder and possession of an instrument of a crime. He is being held without bail and faces life in prison.

Back in July, he had been charged with strangling Torres. That is a pattern that Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said law enforcement has seen so frequently that they helped champion a 2016 law, which makes strangulation that falls short of murder its own standalone felony.

"Somebody who is willing to strangle somebody is seven times more likely to kill them," Steele said at a Friday press conference.

"And that is something that anybody in a relationship that has been strangled needs to recognize and needs to understand the danger to them," Steele said.

After the July attack, Torres, 23, had moved out of the couple's home. She got a protection from abuse order against Mendieta Pando, who also was prohibited from being around Torres as a condition of his bail, Steele said.

There was a hearing scheduled in her PFA case Friday.

Steele said that Torres had planned to testify against Mendieta Pando, though he did not specify if that was in the strangulation case, PFA hearing or something else. "Whether that was the cause or not I can't tell you," Steele said. "I can tell you there were a number of things moving along that he was in jeopardy of his liberty."

Pennsylvania district attorneys worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to pass the 2016 law, making strangulation assault its own felony. They wanted to strengthen the law to protect victims from further abuse.

"Someone who is willing to put their hands around a woman's neck and squeeze until they can't breathe is a dangerous person," Steele said.

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