Remains identified as missing Alexander County mom months after 2 children found dead

GRAYSON COUNTY, VIRGINIA — Investigators have confirmed remains found in Virginia more than three months ago are those of a missing mother whose two children were found dead in an Alexander County home last year.

A hunter found a truck on Nov. 4, 2019, that had been abandoned and burned in a very remote area of Grayson County, Virginia, near the North Carolina state line.

Deputies said they found three sets of human skeletal remains in the bed of the truck. Investigators announced Wednesday that one of the sets of remains belongs to Maria Calderon Martinez.

The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty the truck, a 2009, dark blue, four-door Chevrolet Silverado, was reported missing after two other bodies were found inside a home that was set on fire in June of 2019.

Deputies said they have been searching for Martinez since then, after Areli Aguirre-Avilez and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Heidi Wolfe, set the fire at her home.

The bodies that were found inside the home in June were identified as Martinez's children, 11-year-old Angel E. Pacheco and 12-year-old America D. Pacheco.

Court documents show Wolfe admitted to going to the home with Aguirre-Avilez, where she said he killed two people inside, and she ran over a third person who tried to run from the home.

Officials said they were also looking for Juan Carlos Mendez-Pena and Luis Fernando Sanchez, who had not been seen or contacted family or friends since June 14.

After the fire June 15, detectives said they were hoping to find and speak with Mendez-Pena and Sanchez, who were identified as acquaintances of Martinez. They were not considered suspects.

Investigators believed from the blood evidence found inside the home, they were also murdered but moved to another location.

The Alexander County Sheriff’s Office said it is working with the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke, Virginia for further identification of Mendez-Pena and Sanchez.

"We felt that the truck was in or around Ashe County and Wilkes County," Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman said. "Some of the video we had showed the truck passing some businesses."

Faherty spoke with Estevan Pacheco, the father of the two children killed in June. He said he has been praying for answers in the case.

“I was really close to my children and I miss them every day,” he said. “It’s been really hard.”

Aguirre-Avilez and Wolfe are charged with three counts of first-degree murder in this case and are currently in custody at the Alexander County Detention Center.