A stolen laptop computer helped investigators find a suspect in the death of a 63-year-old woman and five other home invasions.
At a bond hearing, Jose Garcia-Perlera was ordered held without bond. He is facing the death penalty in connection with the September death of Mary Havenstein at her Montgomery County home, authorities said.
Garcia-Perlera also is suspected in five other home invasions that targeted senior citizens. In the United States illegally from El Salvador, Garcia-Perlera faces eight formal charges ranging from rogue and vagabond to robbery to murder.
Havenstein's deceased husband's NASA medallions from the Mercury space mission was among the stolen property recovered from Garcia-Perlera's basement apartment room in Hyattsville.
Investigators traced a stolen laptop to a Hyattsville pawn shop, but at the time, the robbery wasn't connected to the string of home invasions, Montgomery County police said.
"It didn't really share many of the characteristics, and then as a routine we often serve search warrants on the homes of the burglars to see what else we can find in terms of stolen property," said Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger. "When we served the search warrant at his home, that's when we found the property that belonged to some of the victims in the home invasion cases, and of course, that led to his arrest."
The laptop was stolen from Scott Weber's home a block away from Havenstein's home about one month before her death.
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Investigators are looking into what other thefts and robberies in which Garcia-Perlera may have been involved.