Palm Beach County

Siblings Killed Missing Broward Man, Dumped Body in Dumpster: Sheriff

Sophia Valdez, 22, and Luis Valdez, 24, were arrested Monday on first-degree murder charges in the killing of 23-year-old Jaytwan McNeal, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office arrest reports said

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A woman and her brother are facing murder and other charges in the killing of a Broward County man who's been missing since September, authorities said Tuesday.

Sophia Valdez, 22, and Luis Valdez, 24, were arrested Monday on first-degree murder charges in the killing of 23-year-old Jaytwan McNeal, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office arrest reports said.

Luis Valdez was also charged with felon in possession of a firearm, while Sophia Valdez was also charged with accessory after the fact to a capital felony.

Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office
Sophia and Luis Valdez

McNeal had been last seen on Sept. 21 at his home in Oakland Park by his roommate, authorities and family members said. He was reported missing on Sept. 25.

In early October, Palm Beach detectives received a detailed tip that McNeal had traveled from Broward to Palm Beach to meet with Sophia Valdez, his longtime friend and schoolmate, the arrest reports said.

Investigators discovered McNeal had taken the Tri-Rail train to Palm Beach on Sept. 21, and the tipster told authorities that Sophia Valdez picked him up and they went to a gas station, the reports said.

Later that night, Luis Valdez shot and killed McNeal, and the siblings wrapped his body in a blue tarp and drove to a dumpster where they threw the body in, the tipster said, according to the reports.

The tipster said Sophia Valdez used peroxide and some cleaning solution to clean the car they'd been in, a red Hyundai Elantra, before the siblings burned their clothes, the reports said. The tipster said the pair also destroyed McNeal's cellphone, the reports said.

Data from McNeal's cellphone showed he was in Palm Beach County on Sept 21, but the data stopped shortly before 11 p.m. that night, the reports said.

Phone records showed McNeal's last communications before his disappearance were with a number associated with Sophia Valdez, the reports said.

On Oct. 4, a caller who identified herself as Sophia Valdez called the Broward Sheriff's Office and said she saw McNeal on Sept. 21, the reports said. She said they had briefly hung out smoking marijuana together before McNeal inexplicably walked away, but when detectives continued to question her, she hung up the phone, the reports said.

On Oct. 8, detectives tried to stop a red Hyundai Elantra that matched the description of the car that the tipster said had driven McNeal's body to the dumpster, but the car fled, the reports said. Detectives said the driver closely resembled Sophia Valdez, the reports said.

BSO
Jaytwan McNeal

On Oct. 13, a red Hyundai was towed from a mobile home park in West Palm Beach where Sophia and Luis Valdez lived, the reports said.

Shortly after the Hyundai was towed, detectives received a call from Sophia Valdez, who admitted to fleeing from authorities in the car on Oct. 8, saying she "didn't feel like pulling over," the reports said.

The Hyundai was searched and blood belonging to McNeal was found inside, the reports said.

On Oct. 14, detectives interviewed Sophia Valdez, who admitted to driving the Hyundai to the Tri-Rail station to pick up McNeal on Sept. 21 but was adamant that she wasn't involved in his disappearance, the reports said.

Luis Valdez denied knowing or meeting McNeal, the reports said.

That same day, Oct. 14, detectives executed a search warrant at the mobile home where the siblings live and found a revolver in Sophia Valdez's bedroom and a pistol in Luis Valdez's room, the reports said.

While executing the search warrant, the detectives also found parts of a blue tarp in the area where the tipster said McNeal's body had been wrapped in the tarp, the reports said.

The reports said cellphone data showed Sophia and Luis Valdez's cellphone had been at the mobile home park and the dumpster where the body was dumped on the night of the murder.

Detectives were also able to get recordings of Sophia Valdez discussing the tipster talking with investigators, the reports said.

"[The witness] told the f---ing police everything, everything," Sophia Valdez said, according to the reports. "This b---h said everything brah, everything…told them where the motherf---ing body was and everything."

Sophia and Luis Valdez were booked into the Palm Beach County Jail, where they were being held without bond. Attorney information wasn't available.

McNeal's mother said Tuesday that her son has known the Valdez siblings since middle school, and she didn't know why they'd want to kill her son. She said she received the news of his death from detectives on Monday.

"I knew it was something serious. And that’s when they explained to me that Jaytwan had been shot in the head, thrown in the dumpster and basically burnt up," Brigette Simpkins said.

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