A man who immigration authorities said was twice deported from the United States is going to prison for raping and killing a jogger in a New Jersey park in what local officials described at the time as a rare "stranger on stranger attack."
A judge on Thursday sentenced Jorge Rios, 35, of Jersey City, to 30 years in prison for the 2019 attack on Carolina Cano, 45, in Liberty Park. The judge also imposed a 10-year sentence to run concurrently for aggravated sexual assault.
According to Hudson County prosecutors, Rios admitted to sexually assaulting and strangling Cano, who was from Peru. She had been in the U.S. for about two years and worked as a nanny. Police found her body in the park's lake.
Rios, who is from Honduras, had entered the U.S. illegally and was removed in 2003 and 2004, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.
The medical examiner determined Cano's "cause of death was homicidal violence including strangulation and water submersion and the manner of death was homicide," according to the complaint filed against Rios. The complaint also reveals that Cano was strangled with a cellphone charger cord.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop called the death of Cano a "stranger on stranger attack." Investigators said Cano, who was wearing sneakers at the time, did not appear to be in the water long.
Security was stepped up in the park in the wake of the killing.
Cano's roommate told News 4 that the dead woman's entire family lives in Peru and that she and they were absolutely devastated by her death.
The lake where Cano was found is surrounded by running trails, roads and tennis courts.
Investigators said surveillance video was crucial in making the arrest.
According to the complaint, surveillance footage captured an individual entering the park around 5:10 a.m. March 24, around the area of the "south side of the pond," the same area where Cano's body was eventually found.
A few minutes after entering the park, the same individual is seen walking up the stairs from the pond, the complaint says. Footage also captures the victim jogging past the suspect.
According to the complaint, "the male observes the victim and proceeds to walk behind her. Upon approaching the football parking lot, the victim is seen running with the male running directly behind her. The male is seen continuing south, stopping, turning to look behind him towards the victim, and then running in the same direction as the victim. The male exits the park the same way he entered and exits."
Multiple witnesses eventually identified Rios from a photo still, according tot the complaint, which also alleges Rios is the individual in the surveillance footage in Lincoln Park and the surrounding areas.