MALDEN — Omar Wilfredo Reyes had a bad feeling when he received a text from an alleged member of the vicious MS-13 gang insisting that the two meet up late one night last month.
But if he didn’t go, Reyes told his girlfriend, “They were going to beat him up,” a prosecutor said.
Despite his misgivings, Reyes left his girlfriend’s apartment on Jan. 2. Roughly two hours later, he was found at the bicycle path underneath the Tileston Street Bridge behind Carter Street suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, said Assistant District Attorney Carrie Spiros. He died at a local hospital.
Two 17-year-olds, Jose Vasquez Ardon and Cristian Nunez-Flores, both of Everett, were arraigned Monday in Malden District Court and charged with the murder of the 19-year-old Reyes, also of Everett. They pleaded not guilty. Both were ordered held without bail.
Both youths are believed to be affiliated with the international street gang MS-13, Spiros told the court. Authorities are searching for a third suspect in the murder.
“This case remains an open and very active investigation with a third party still unidentified as a participant in this murder,” Spiros said.
The prosecutor said Reyes was with his girlfriend at her apartment in Everett when Ardon sent Reyes a series of text messages and “essentially lured the victim out of that apartment.”
“Mr. Reyes told his girlfriend that he had a ‘bad vibe’ about meeting up with Mr. Ardon,” she said.
But he did anyway, and met up with Ardon at 10:30 p.m, Spiros said. Reyes’s girlfriend tried contacting him 20 minutes later to no avail. Spiros said the girlfriend then called Ardon, who told her the two never linked-up.
Police found Reyes bleeding on the pathway at 12:15 a.m. on Jan.3, Spiros said. He died at Massachusetts General Hospital the following day.
The prosecutor said investigators located several surveillance videos that show Reyes walking toward the bike path with the teenagers and another that captured the same individuals without Reyes walking away from where he was later found.
Two people identified Ardon as one of the boys in the video.
Spiros said a witness told investigators that Ardon said he shot Reyes in the head and told another person that he was present at the time of the murder with two other men. Another person told investigators that Nunez-Flores said he was there but Ardon was the shooter.
Phone records revealed that Ardon and Nunez-Flores called each other on Jan. 3, the morning after the shooting, and thereafter.
The three suspects fled to Ardon’s home and hid their clothes in the basement, Spiros said. Bloody paper towels that were tossed into a trashcan at the home, along with the clothes, were recovered by police and sent to a lab for testing.
Ardon’s DNA was found on a sweatshirt that matched the one he was seen wearing in the surveillance video, Spiros said.
The baby-faced boys stood in the prisoner’s docket as an interpreter translated statements made by the prosecutor. Ardon appeared visibly uncomfortable, continuously biting his lip.
Ardon’s attorney, Kevin Mitchell, and his relatives declined comment after the hearing.
Attorney Edward Hayden, who represented Nunez-Flores, said the boy moved to the state from his native El Salvador a year and a half ago. Hayden said the boy’s parents remain in El Salvador and his brother lives in the state.
Hayden said he had not spoken to his client about any possible ties to MS-13 and was unable to comment about it.
Dozens of members of the notorious gang were indicted on charges of murder, drug-trafficking and other crimes on Friday. Those arrests were linked to five murders including the deaths of three teenagers in East Boston.
“He is a frightened teenager right now,” Hayden said of Nunez-Flores. “Of course, I’m concerned for his safety, as well as how this trial is going to play out, but I saw him yesterday in DYS and he was in a safe environment.”
Ardon was arrested in Revere and Nunez-Flores was arrested in Malden on Saturday. The two are due back in court on March 1.
Jan Ransom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Jan_Ransom.