Former U.S. Customs employee pleads guilty in wife’s kidnapping, death in Southern California

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection employee has pleaded guilty to his wife’s kidnapping that resulted in her death.

The United States Department of Justice announced that 38-year-old Eddy Reyes admitted to orchestrating his estranged wife’s 2016 kidnapping after suspecting she had an affair. The victim — identified as 21-year-old Claudia Sanchez Reyes — died a short time after the kidnapping.

Eddy met Claudia in El Salvador in 2014. The pair got married and he helped Claudia and their son move to Southern California. Court documents show that the victim filed a restraining order against Eddy in 2014 and 2016, citing several incidents of domestic abuse.

In 2016, Eddy suspected Claudia of having an extramarital affair and decided to kill her. The DOJ says Eddy contacted his estranged brother, identified only as P.O., who was a former gang member and grave digger in El Salvador about killing Claudia. Authorities say P.O. is now deceased.

Court documents say that on May 6, 2016, Eddy called Claudia while she was at work and said he wanted to take her to dinner. He told her not to take an Uber home from work and that he would pick her up.

He rented a Hyundai Santa Fe and came to Claudia’s workplace at around 8 p.m. He informed his estranged wife that the vehicle was a gift for her.

The DOJ says that instead of taking Claudia out to eat, Eddy drove her to his mother’s home in Orange. Once they entered the garage, Eddy closed the door and P.O. jumped out from hiding in the rear of the vehicle.

P.O. then struck Claudia multiple times and strangled her with a seatbelt. Eddy and his brother-in-law went to great lengths to cover up the crime.

The former federal employee admitted in court that he had turned Claudia’s phone off following the murder. Eddy drove to the Santa Anta apartment he shared with Claudia and turned the phone back on.

He then impersonated Claudia and texted her co-worker that she wouldn’t be attending work that day. P.O. also contacted a paralegal from a law firm working on Claudia’s divorce case saying their services were no longer needed.

After that, Eddy texted Claudia’s mother pretending to be the victim and informed her that she was leaving her husband and abandoning their son to be with another man. He also said she was disconnecting her phone permanently and wished her a Happy Mother’s Day.

Eddy filed a missing persons report with authorities, which ultimately led to his arrest. Detectives began an investigation and spoke with Claudia’s co-workers, who informed them that they heard the victim arguing with Eddy shortly before he came to pick her up on the evening of the kidnapping.

Detectives located a drop of Claudia’s blood in the rented SUV and a cadaver dog indicated that a dead body had been in the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Eddy was subsequently arrested and admitted to the crime. He will be sentenced on Aug. 2, and if convicted, he faces up to 30 years in federal prison.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KTLA.