BROCKTON — A Guatemalan man whose remains were found last week in a cardboard box in Duxbury had a 14-inch incision bisecting his abdomen that may have been made to empty the contents of his stomach, prosecutors said Monday.
Plymouth County prosecutors revealed those details as they identified the man as Estuardo Leonel Melgar Perez. The 44-year-old Guatemalan national arrived in the United States on a flight from Honduras on July 25, two days before his remains were found, said Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz in a statement.
The incision stretched from the breast bone to the pelvis, but investigators didn’t find any internal damage except for a “careful cut to the stomach, presumably to access the contents of the stomach,” said Assistant District Attorney Peter Maguire. He didn’t say what, if anything, was being sought from Melgar Perez’s stomach. Melgar Perez didn’t have other injuries, according to Maguire.
Maguire disclosed information about the remains during an arraignment in Brockton District Court for Jose Milthon Freddy Azurdia-Montenegro, 55, a Guatemalan national who is charged with witness intimidation related to accusations that he misled police investigating his countryman’s death.
State Police met Azurdia-Montenegro at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as he was trying to board a plane to Honduras early Saturday; he voluntarily returned to Massachusetts for questioning, Maguire said. Melgar Perez was scheduled to take the same flight, Cruz’s office said.
Investigators connected the two men after learning Melgar Perez had listed a Massachusetts resident as a local contact, Maguire said. That person provided authorities with access to his cellphone, which in turn led investigators to Azurdia-Montenegro, Maguire said.
Azurdia-Montenegro returned to Massachusetts with police from New York and was questioned, said defense attorney Scott Bradley.
He initially told officers he never left New York while visiting the United States, had met Melgar Perez on only one occasion months ago, and wasn’t aware of his death, Maguire said. Azurdia-Montenegro did disclose that he and Melgar Perez are both in the car industry, the prosecutor said.
Officers then confronted Azurdia-Montenegro with evidence and also had someone they had interviewed speak with Azurdia-Montenegro, Maguire said. That person told Azurdia-Montenegro, “They know. You should speak with them,” Maguire recounted. Azurdia-Montenegro then acknowledged he knew Melgar Perez for five or six years and had been in the Boston area.
Bradley identified the person who spoke with his client as Hector Perez and said Azurdia-Montenegro was in the area to purchase vehicles from Perez’s brother, Jose, to be shipped back to Guatemala. Jose Perez has an auto body shop in Boston, Bradley said. Neither Jose nor Hector Perez could be reached Monday.
Officers also asked Azurdia-Montenegro about a person “who may or may not have been involved in the drug trade,” Maguire said. He didn’t identify the person. Azurdia-Montenegro initially denied knowing the person, but then reversed himself, Maguire said. He also told police that Melgar Perez knew the person.
Bradley said Azurdia-Montenegro has no connection to the drug trade, didn’t commit a crime, and immediately corrected false information he gave to police. He said Azurdia-Montenegro and Melgar Perez arrived in the United States separately and traveled here to buy cars and ship them home.
“It’s somewhat disturbing that the State Police are now arresting people who haven’t committed any crimes just to force them to stick around because they think they’ll run away in case they have further questions for them in the future,” Bradley said.
District Judge Julie Bernard set bail at $10,000 and approved a request to impound a police report filed in Azurdia-Montenegro’s case.
No one answered the phone Monday at the Guatemalan consulate’s New England office and an e-mail was not returned.