A Wilkes County teenager and an Alexander County man are in custody on three counts of murder apiece for the deaths of two children and their mother.
Heidi Darlene Wolfe, 16, of Wilkesboro, and Areli Aguirre Avilez, 30, of Taylorsville, were arrested and charged Monday in connection with the deaths of siblings Angel E. Pacheco, an 11-year-old male, and America D. Pacheco, a 12-year-old female, and their mother, Maria Calderon, 38.
Authorities identified Avilez and Wolfe as boyfriend and girlfriend and said Avilez and Calderon were once married.
A Wilkes Sheriff’s Office spokesman said Wolfe’s last known address in Wilkes was Old N.C. 18 in Wilkesboro. A Wilkes County Schools spokesman said Wolfe currently isn’t enrolled in a Wilkes school, but her Facebook page says she attended C.C. Wright Elementary School and Wilkes Central High School.
The Alexander Sheriff’s Office reported that firefighters found bodies of the two children in two different rooms of a mobile home in the Vashti community of northern Alexander after they extinguished a fire there late Saturday night. The mobile home is on Pine Meadows Lane near the northern end of Black Oak Ridge Road.
The mobile home was fully engulfed in flames when the Sugar Loaf, Vashti and Taylorsville fire departments arrived and the two bodies were burned beyond recognition. The Alexander Sheriff’s Office said the fire is believed to have resulted from arson.
Alexander Sheriff Chris Bowman announced that they were Angel and America Pacheco on Tuesday after they were identified through autopsies conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Bowman said a determination of the cause of their deaths is pending.
Angel and America Pacheco were both students at Hiddenite Elementary School and were active in school and community activities in Alexander, said Renee Meade, communications director for the Alexander County Schools.
Bowman identified their mother as Maria Calderon, 38, and said she is missing and presumed deceased. Calderon is listed in Alexander County land records as the owner of the mobile home on Pine Meadows Lane were the bodies of the children were found.
In the land records, as well as in a domestic violence protective order filed at the Alexander Clerk of Superior Court’s office, she is listed as Maria Calderon Martinez. A judge issued the domestic violence protective order on behalf of Calderon against Avilez on Jan. 16, 2019. The order expired on Sunday, June 16.
Avilez’s Facebook page says he lives in Hickory and is originally from San Pedro Limon, Mexico. According to media reports, the Alexander Sheriff’s Office is looking into whether he is a legal resident of the U.S.
The Alexander Sheriff’s Office reported that a “recovery search” was conducted for Calderon on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in an area that includes Catawba County’s Riverbend Park off N.C. 16 near Oxford Dam and the Alexander County line. The search has been focused on the Catawba River and nearby land and included use of aircraft.
According to the Hickory Daily Record, Bowman said Wednesday afternoon that the search would resume Thursday morning north of Lookout Shoals Dam. He also said authorities are following up on leads at different locations.
Bowman said anyone with information on Calderon’s whereabouts is asked to call the Alexander Sheriff’s Office at 828-632-2911 or Alexander Crime Stoppers at 828-632-8555.
The sheriff said authorities are seeking information on the whereabouts of Jose Carlos Mendez and Luis Fernando Sanchez, both acquaintances of Calderon. Mendez and Sanchez aren’t considered suspects at this time in the investigation, he added.
Wolfe and Avilez both remain in custody without bond and have first appearances scheduled Monday in Alexander County District Court in Taylorsville. Bowman said Avilez was taken into custody while walking along Macedonia Church Road south of Taylorsville about 1:20 p.m. Sunday when he was considered a “person of interest.” He said Wolfe was arrested in Alexander County.
Agencies engaged in the search for Calderon this week included the Alexander and Catawba sheriff’s offices, Alexander Rescue Squad, Taylorsville Police Department, State Bureau of Investigation and its cadaver K-9, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and its cadaver K-9, Catawba County Emergency Medical Services, Sherrill’s Ford Fire and Rescue, Claremont Rescue, Catawba County Rescue, Catawba Emergency Services and the N.C. Highway Patrol Aviation Unit.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A community prayer vigil for America and Angel Pacheco and Maria Calderon will start at 5 p.m. Sunday on the downtown park green space in Taylorsville near the Alexander County Courthouse. It’s being organized by the Alexander Community Relations Committee, Shelter Home of Caldwell County, Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Taylorsville Presbyterian Church under the pastoral leadership of Father Jose Camilo Cardenas-Bonilla and the Rev. Paul Sink. “All are invited to attend this time of unity and healing in our community following the tragic deaths of Ms. Calderon and her children,” stated an announcement concerning the event.