The suspected killer of a Google employee appeared in court on Tuesday (18 April) to be arraigned in Leominster District Court in Massachusetts on charges of assault, intent to rape and aggravated assault and battery.
Vanessa Marcotte disappeared on 7 August 2016 after leaving her mother's home in Princeton, 40 miles west of Boston, to go for a walk around 1.15pm EST (6.15pm GMT).
Prosecutor Jeffrey Travers said Marcotte's iPhone was either turned off or disabled around 2.11pm. Her family called Princeton police when she failed to return home later that day, the Boston Globe reported.
State and Princeton police found Marcotte's body in woods about half a mile from her mother's home around 8.30pm that evening.
"The victim suffered a fractured nose during the attack and crushing injuries to the structures surrounding her throat," State Police wrote in a report filed in court.
Suspect spotted next to car
According to Travers, eyewitness reports, DNA and cellphone evidence linked 31-year-old Angelo Colon-Ortiz, of Worcester, to the crime scene.
Travers said prosecutors claim a witness saw Colon-Ortiz holding a cellphone and standing next to a dark-coloured SUV, with its hood up "near to where the site where Vanessa's body was later recovered" at around 12.45pm.
The bystander did not stop to help the apparently stranded motorist, and, when the witness passed the same location around 2.05pm, the man alleged to be Colon-Ortiz had vanished. However, the SU remained, but with its hood and windows now closed.
Colon-Ortiz was familiar with Princeton and the surrounding area as part of his job, Travers said. The suspect was originally said to be working for FedEx, but a company spokesperson said Colon-Ortiz was not a FexEx employee. "The suspect was not our employee. He was a driver for a large third party logistics firm contracted to provide trucking services," the spokesperson told IBTimes UK.
The suspect was not working at the time of Marcotte's disappearance but cellphone records indicate he was in the area, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The suspect was also connected to the case through DNA left on the victim's hands, prosecutors said. Travers revealed a state trooper spotted a similar SUV with a driver matching the suspect's description. The trooper took down the license plate number, visited Colon-Ortiz's home and spoke to his wife.
The trooper left a business card for Colon-Ortiz to reach out to him, but never heard back. Travers said the trooper returned to Colon-Ortiz's home and obtained a voluntary DNA sample. The DNA was a match to the DNA found on the victim, Travers said.
According to AP, Colon-Ortiz's attorney Edward Ryan questioned the way his DNA sample was acquired. Ryan argued that his client is not proficient in English and may have not understood what he was being asked for.
"We're going to examine the circumstances under which he surrendered his DNA," Ryan said.
Prosecutors have subsequently asked the Department of Homeland Security to look into the "actual identity of this defendant," who had a Puerto Rico driver's license issued to him in 2014. Ryan said that Colon-Ortiz was born in Puerto Rico, where his parents still live. "There is no question he is a US citizen," he continued.
The suspect was held on a $10m (£7m) bail after his defence attorney entered not guilty pleas to the charges, the AP reported. Travers requested the high bail because Colon-Ortiz is expected to be charged with murder for the death of Marcotte.