ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C. - A 30-year-old man and his 16-year-old girlfriend have been indicted on charges related to the slayings of a woman and her two children at their mobile home earlier this month in Alexander County, authorities said.
Investigators said on Tuesday Areli Aguirre-Aveliz was indicted by a grand jury on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of statutory rape of a child 15 years of age or younger, violation of domestic violence order with a deadly weapon and first-degree arson.
They said Heidi Wolfe was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson.
Authorities said on June 15, two children were found dead inside a home that had been set on fire on Pine Meadows Lane off Black Oak Ridge Road.
The victims were identified as 11-year-old Angel E. Pacheco and his 12-year-old sister America D. Pacheco.
The sheriff said their mother, 38-year-old Maria Calderon Martinez, was also killed at the home and detectives believe her body was dumped in the Catawba River.
Investigators think all three were killed inside the home before it was set on fire.
Authorities were searching the Catawba River at Riverbend Park, near the Oxford Dam for the woman.
Channel 9 could see the Alexander County Rescue squad along with Catawba County firefighters scrambling to get boats in the water in search of the murder victim.
Crews from as far away as Charlotte moved further down the river, searching near Lake Lookout Shoals south of Taylorsville.
Authorities also brought in dogs to help with their search.
Investigators said Aguirre-Aveliz is an ex-boyfriend of the woman who lived in the house.
Detectives told Channel 9 the woman had a domestic violence order against Aguirre-Aveliz and that he had made threats in the past that he would burn the home down.
The court order was set to expire the day after the fire.
One of the lead investigators fought back tears as he talked about the case.
“Personally, this is the worst case I’ve ever dealt with. It’s been very hard on our officers. These kids did not deserve this. There’s just no way to say what I really feel,” Chief Deputy Tod Jones said.
The fire happened around 11:30 p.m. at the home north of Taylorsville.
Neighbors who first spotted the flames said they tried to help as they waited for first responders to arrive at the home.
“We ran down there beating on the house, ‘Hey, anybody in there? Wake up, wake up!’ We heard nothing,” said neighbor Cynthia Ledford.
Firefighters said when they got to the scene, flames had already engulfed most of the mobile home. Two severely burned bodies were found in separate areas of the home.
“Going back to hit hot spots, they found a body and just a short time after that they found another body, both badly, badly, burned,” said Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman.
(Credit: Cynthia Ledford)
Investigators told Channel 9's Dave Faherty they brought in a state arson dog which detected accelerants at the home.
Deputies think the family was killed before the home went up in flames, and believe the fire was set to cover up the crime.
Reuben Cobos knew the family well. He coached the woman’s 11-year old boy and knew his older sister.
“I am broken. All friends are broken because they are beautiful people,” said Cobos.
Cobos told Channel 9 the mother was very afraid of Aguirre-Aveliz.
Neighbors said they were shocked something like this happened.
“That’s crazy. I never thought something like that was going to happen around here -- where everybody’s so peaceful and keep to themselves," said neighbor Tyrese.
The Sheriff's Office said it is getting help from the SBI, the FBI Violent Crime Task Force and Homeland Security.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about where Martinez's body might be to contact them at (828) 632-2911.
Detectives are also hoping to locate and speak with Jose Carlos Mendez and Luis Fernando Sanchez, who they’ve identified as acquaintances of Martinez. They are not considered suspects.
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