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Men Charged with Murder, Mutilation of Robbery Witness

February 2, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ Two robbery suspects kidnapped and strangled the woman who was to testify against them, then burned her body with acid, cut off her fingertips and pulled out her teeth to try to conceal her identity, police said.

A body believed to be that of Bonnie Mejia was found in early Wednesday in a shallow grave in woods off a highway in Queens. Robert Molina, 25, and Nelson Rivera, 30, were arrested on murder charges after Rivera led them to the site.

Police say the two men grabbed Mejia off the street Saturday and drove to the site, where they had already dug a 4-foot-deep grave. They used a cord to strangle her, then mutilated her body and buried it, police said.

The two killed Mejia, 21, because ``they apparently wanted to stop the criminal proceedings,″ said police Capt. Bernard Gillespie.

Molina and Rivera were charged in an April robbery at Mejia’s home in Queens. Police arrested the men in the back yard as they tried to make off with jewelry and other property, Gillespie said.

On May 4, a grand jury indicted Molina and Rivera for the robbery. Two days later, Mejia and her boyfriend reported finding the head of a pit bull dog on a picnic table outside their home, police said.

Authorities never linked the incident to the suspects. But it frightened the couple into moving to the Long Island town of Freeport, Gillespie said.

Police said the two suspects waited for Mejia after a court appearance last month, then tailed her to find out where her new home was. The woman’s boyfriend reported her kidnapped Saturday morning.

Update hourly