December 1 2014

– A Mount Pleasant man stabbed his wife to death during daylight hours Saturday as he drove through town on U.S. Highway 17, according to arrest affidavits.

Alberto Martinez-Villa, 44, of Rifle Range Road later reported to police that he didn’t know where his wife was, prompting detectives to use a cellphone signal to track down her body that afternoon in North Charleston.

But after the discovery, Martinez-Villa recanted his initial statement and confessed to killing 32-year-old Augustina Hernandez-Hernandez and discarding her body, according to the Mount Pleasant Police Department.

The new details were revealed Monday in a police incident report and court paperwork as Martinez-Villa continued to be held without bail. U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, also had placed a detainer on him, meaning he would not be released even if he were able to post bail.

On Saturday, Martinez-Villa summoned the police to his house on Rifle Range Road and said his wife was missing from her workplace. Where she worked was not clear in the document.

Officers quickly started using the woman’s phone to look for her. After the provider sent an emergency ping, cellphone towers indicated that her phone was near Interstate 526 and Attaway Street in North Charleston, according to the affidavits.

Meanwhile, around 4:30 p.m., the North Charleston Police Department was called to Larry Street, about two blocks from where Attaway Street runs under I-526.

That’s where Hernandez-Hernandez’s body had been found lying face down and clad in nothing but a jacket, according to the North Charleston incident report. The cellphone rested next to it, and several stab wounds were apparent in the woman’s chest, the affidavits stated.

While North Charleston officers were examining the scene, a Mount Pleasant police detective arrived and said investigators from his department had traced the missing woman’s cellphone signal to the site. The two police agencies started collaborating on the investigation.

Town detectives said they had noticed inconsistencies between Martinez-Villa’s initial statement to them and what really was happening. They called him in for another interview Sunday.

Martinez-Villa again waived his right to remain silent, and he acknowledged to detectives through an interpreter that he had repeatedly stabbed his wife with a kitchen knife while driving in his car on U.S. Highway 17 near her workplace, according to the affidavits.

After discarding her body, he threw out some bloody clothes and vehicle components along I-526 and tossed the knife into a pond near where he works, the documents stated.

The police confiscated his clothing as evidence, and he was photographed wearing a shirt provided by them.

Jail officials said the ICE detainer on Martinez-Villa means that he is in the country illegally, but an agency spokesman could not immediately confirm his status.

The death that the police linked him to was the second homicide this year in Mount Pleasant. The suspect in the previous case, a stabbing at the Mount Pleasant Towne Centre, also remains behind bars on an ICE detainer.

– Andrew Knapp


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