Jacinta “Patty” Ayala’s recent promotion necessitated her being at work early in the morning to start the day. But one unfortunate day in March 2011 turned out to be her last, sparking a massive investigation into her death.
‘See No Evil: On Her Watch,’ a documentary on Investigation Discovery, recounts the circumstances surrounding the young mother’s murder and how the authorities employed technology to track down her perpetrator. So if you’re interested in learning more, we’ve got you covered.
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What Caused Jacinta “Patty” Ayala’s Death?
Jacinta “Patty” Ayala was born in Mexico and later immigrated to the United States. The 32-year-old was living in Frederick, Maryland, with her boyfriend, Juan Lopez, and their two young children at the time.
She had a teenage daughter in Mexico at the time. Despite growing up in the same town in Mexico, Juan and Patty had only met around seven years prior to the incident, falling in love and having two children.
Patty was just promoted at work, and as an Assistant Manager at Burger King, she was responsible for working both the opening and closing shifts. On March 18, 2011, just before 6 a.m., a coworker saw Patty motionless in a pool of blood and contacted 911.
Unfortunately, resuscitation efforts failed; she had been shot in the back of the skull. The motive was obvious: the office safe had been raided, and moreover $2300 had been taken.
Who was Jacinta “Patty” Ayala’s killer?
The police examined current and former Burger King employees at that particular branch in Maryland as part of their investigation. Soon after, they stumbled across Jose Reyes Mejia-Varela, a 21-year-old former Burger King restaurant manager and Patty’s former coworker.
Jose was arrested on federal charges when authorities discovered he was in the country illegally during questioning.
The case was solved over the next two months thanks to phone records and security camera footage from the vicinity. Jose’s cellphone indicated that he arrived at the crime scene before 5 a.m. on March 18, 2011.
He knew the access hatch would be unfastened and slid into the manager’s office because he was a former employee. Jose attempted to unlock the safe with his access code at 5:25 a.m., but it had been disabled.
Patty was caught on camera filling up her car at a neighbourhood gas station at the same time. Her code was then used to open the safe about 8 minutes later.
At 5:38 a.m., surveillance footage from a nearby Roy Rogers business saw a man sprinting from a Burger King to a distinctive red scooter parked in the Roy Rogers lot. Witnesses said the person was carrying something hefty.
When the authorities discovered that Jose’s sister had recently purchased a red scooter, they were able to link him to it. More evidence was discovered during a search of his home. The scooter was discovered there, along with 873 quarters, which is an unusually large number of coins.
There was also a helmet that matched the witness description. Authorities discovered a pistol thought to be the murder weapon in the garage, hidden beneath the floorboards of a stairway. Finally, his other sister’s automobile in Virginia yielded shoes and a coat that appeared to match what was seen on the security footage.
What Happened to Jose Mejia-Varela?
Jose Mejia-Varela was sentenced to 3 years and 3 months in federal prison for violating immigration laws in November 2011. Jose pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in December 2012, despite accumulating evidence against him in Patty’s murder.
According to the prosecution, the killer wrote something on the dry-erase board at the crime scene that alluded to Patty’s murder being gang-related in an attempt to confuse the investigators.
Furthermore, a prison inmate provided investigators with information obtained from Jose that could only have been known by the killer. Nonetheless, Jose’s attorneys pleaded for a reduced sentence, claiming that Jose was diagnosed with depression and PTSD as a result of his traumatic childhood.
The judge, on the other hand, gave him a life sentence with the prospect of release after 15 years. Jose is still incarcerated at North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, according to prison records.