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Article updated: 2/6/2013 5:00 AM

Bond set for third suspect in Aurora hammer slaying

By Harry Hitzeman

A Kane County judge Tuesday set bail at $100,000 for the third man charged in last week's murder of Abigail Villalpando, a 18-year-old West Aurora High School student.

Jose M. Becerra, 20, of Oswego, is charged with concealment of a homicide. Police say he helped move Villalpando's body to a wooded area in Montgomery after another person killed her with a hammer and burned her remains in a barrel.

"Based on the facts of the case, the serious nature of the charge, the fact that (Becerra) was born in Mexico, he could pose a flight risk," Assistant State's Attorney Anne Stanfa told Judge Christine Downs.

Becerra told Downs he immigrated from Mexico as a child and spent most of his life living on the east side of Aurora before moving to Oswego a few years ago. Becerra, who has had arrests for marijuana possession and disorderly conduct, said he was fired from his job as a cook at a local pancake restaurant.

"This is the longest I've been in (jail). Usually I bond out a couple hours later," Becerra said.

If convicted, Becerra could face up to five years in prison, and 10 years if prosecutors push for an extended term.

Becerra, of the 0-99 block of Setton Creek Drive, must post $10,000 in order to be free while his case is pending; he is next due in court Feb. 21.

According to police, Villalpando, a server at Denny's near the Westfield Fox Valley Mall, was last seen at about 1 p.m. Thursday before she went to visit Juan Garnica Jr., 18, and Enrique Prado, 19, both of Aurora, at Prado's house. She knew both of them.

She never showed up for her 5 p.m. shift and her family reported her missing in the early morning hours on Friday.

Police say Garnica beat and killed the 4-foot-10, 105-pound teen Thursday with a hammer -- while Prado was in another room -- and stuffed her body in a container that was hidden in Prado's garage.

Police said Garnica later burned her body in a barrel, set her 2003 Nissan Altima on fire under a bridge in Aurora Friday morning and had Prado and Becerra move her remains to a wooded area in Montgomery where sheriff's deputies and a K-9 unit found Villalpando's body Saturday morning.

Some of Villalpando's relatives have suggested in other media outlets that Garnica may have been jealous that she was dating someone else.

Police have not specified a motive in the case; Tuesday, during his monthly meeting with reporters, Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon declined to comment on a possible motive.

"The police continue to investigate this crime. I know that they are working on all that information," McMahon said. "We're aware of that and we'll track down that lead or any other information as it comes in."

He noted that the facts discussed in open court "certainly paint a picture of a vicious attack on a young woman."

Garnica was being held on $5 million bail and faces charges of first-degree murder and arson. He is due in court Feb. 14.

Prado is charged with arson and concealment of a homicide and is due in court Feb. 15.

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