The 48-year-old man who stabbed and beat a Virginia mom to death and then set her on fire thought she was his ex-girlfriend, who had ended their relationship about a month earlier, prosecutors said.
Richard Montano was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder on Thursday for the horrific slaying of 40-year-old Silvia “Kelly” Vaca Abacay on August 10, 2022.
He “quite literally went for the jugular,” prosecutors said during the trial as they alluded to Abacay’s autopsy that detailed 10 stab wounds and blunt-force trauma injuries on her face, head and neck, before Montano set the apartment on fire.
“As Commonwealth’s Attorney, I’ve seen considerable crime scenes and photos, but the photos from this case stood out in terms of the victims’ injuries,” Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Steve Descano said. “This case exhibited some of the most disturbing crime scenes I’ve ever encountered.”
Abacay was staying with her close friend Via Rojas, who had ended an eight-year relationship with Montano at the end of July 2022, Descano said in a press release after the conviction.
For the next month, a Ring doorbell camera caught Montano barging into her apartment multiple times without her knowledge, according to Descano.
He was seen on camera in the apartment 10 days before Abacay was killed.
A neighbor called 911 multiple times after hearing screams and loud noises the afternoon that Montano killed the “beloved mom and wife,” Descano said.
The 911 call was played during the trial. “Listen to the pain and anguish in Silvia’s voice as she is screaming for her life,” prosecutors said during the trial.
“The screaming and banging continued for 15 minutes that Silvia Abacay endured a violent attack that left Apartment 101 in carnage.”
A detective who testified during the trial said there were blood stains running down the walls, according to WUSA9.com.
First responders were rudely greeted by a cloud of smoke coming from the Falls Church apartment, and found Abacay’s body on fire.
Life-saving measures were unsuccessful, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
“He murdered the wrong person, and now he needs to cover his tracks,” prosecutors said during the trial.
“Kelly was friendly and full of joy, and always there to help others,” her friend Jose Luis Landivar said in a GoFundMe post. “She was loved by so many, and will be deeply missed. Her family and friends are heartbroken at their loss.”
She left behind two teenage children, her husband and many relatives and friends.
Descano acknowledged that this week’s conviction won’t bring Abacay back, but he hopes it “provides the victim’s family with the first step towards healing.”
“This conviction ensures that the defendant is no longer a danger to members of our community,” he said in statement.
Montano is scheduled to be sentenced on January 19, 2024, and he faces up to life in prison.