Skeletal remains of three people found Monday in Grayson County, Va., are believed to be missing people connected to mid-June homicides in Alexander County that involve a Wilkes County teenager, according to media reports.

Late Monday afternoon, Alexander Sheriff Chris Bowman released a statement saying the Grayson Sheriff’s Office contacted his office that day saying it had located a vehicle entered as missing from Alexander. Bowman said it was a pickup with three sets of human skeletal remains in the bed.

“The truck was located in a remote wooded area by a deer hunter who walked up on the vehicle,” said Bowman.

Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughn is quoted in media reports as saying the pickup was found near Oak Hill Academy in the Mouth of Wilson community Monday morning. Other media reported that the pickup and the bodies were burned but Bowman only said the pickup was burned.

The Hickory Daily Record reported that Bowman said the bodies are believed to be Maria Calderon, 38; Juan Carlos Mendez-Pena, 33; and Luis Fernando Sanchez, 36. Calderon is listed as Maria Calderon Martinez in some Alexander records.

Areli Aguirre-Avilez, 30, of Taylorsville and his girlfriend, Heidi Darlene Wolfe, 16, of Wilkesboro, are charged with three counts of first-degree murder apiece in the June 15 deaths of Calderon and her son, Angel Pacheco, 11, and daughter, America Pacheco, 12, at their mobile home on Black Oak Ridge Road in the Vashti community of northern Alexander.

Bowman released a photo of a pickup Monday and said it was the pickup found burned with the skeletal remains in Grayson. In July, his office released the same photo and identified it as a dark blue, four-door 2009 Chevrolet Silverado that Pena was known to have driven.

Bowman said the Grayson Sheriff’s Office reported that the VIN number on the vehicle matched the VIN number on a missing pickup stolen from a homicide scene near Black Oak Ridge Road in Alexander in June 2019. 

Bowman told the Wilkes Journal-Patriot in July that Pena and Sanchez were missing and feared murdered in connection with the murders of Calderon and her son and daughter.

Court papers say Calderon and the two children were murdered on the night of June 15 in their mobile home off Black Oak Ridge Road. Firefighters found the badly burned bodies of the kids in the mobile home after extinguishing a fire there late that night. Despite extensive searching, Calderon’s body wasn’t located.

Autopsy reports say the children, students at Hiddenite Elementary School, died from one gunshot each.

Bowman said Avilez and Calderon were once married, but Pena was Calderon’s boyfriend at the time of the murders. He said Pena and Sanchez were co-workers in construction outside Alexander County on weekdays and were building an addition to Calderon’s mobile home at the time of their disappearance.

Alexander deputies searched for Pena and Sanchez in Wilkes and Ashe counties this summer because they were known to have connections in there.

Avilez and Wolfe are also charged with first-degree arson due to the June 15 mobile home fire, plus Avilez is charged with violating a domestic protective order with a deadly weapon and statutory rape of a child age 15 or younger.

A judge issued the protective order on behalf of Calderon against Avilez on Jan. 16 after he threatened to burn down her home. Avilez was convicted of assaulting Calderon earlier this year. Wolfe apparently is the victim in the case in which Avilez is charged with statutory rape.

Wolfe’s last known address in Wilkes is Old N.C. 18, Wilkesboro. Bowman said she had been staying with Avilez in Alexander for an undetermined length of time and was arrested in Alexander. Records show Wolfe earlier attended Wilkes Central High School. Bowman said his understanding was that Wolfe would be tried as an adult in the murders of Calderon and her children.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.