Officials trace murder suspect to El Salvador Prosecutor’s office hopeful for political arrangement to get man back to U.S.

The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office is certain that the main suspect in the stabbing death of a 65-year-old North Bergen man two weeks ago has fled the country, back to his native El Salvador.

The office is also currently working on ways to have the man extradited back to the United States to stand trial for murder, Hudson County First Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said.

According to DeFazio, investigators are sure that the alleged murderer of 65-year-old Arsenio Plasencia is in El Salvador, but it is difficult to extradite suspects from that country. Plasencia was found dead in his North Bergen apartment Dec. 3.

“The problem is that we do not have a formal extradition treaty with El Salvador,” DeFazio said. “We have some very viable information as to where the guy is, but we have to get on some sort of plan here. The plan will have to involve the federal government, the FBI. It’s going to entail some diplomatic channels, like the State Department, perhaps our congressmen. It’s going to be difficult, but it’s not impossible.”

DeFazio said that they have “a positive identification on the suspect.”

“That’s not the issue,” DeFazio said. “We know who he is. We just have to secure his return to Hudson County. But we’re not going to let the issue go. It’s still a very open issue and one we’re working on very hard.”

Plasencia was found dead of multiple stab wounds in his apartment on 17th Street and Kennedy Boulevard in North Bergen on Dec. 3. It was the first homicide in the township this year.

Based on autopsy reports, it appears as if Plasencia was stabbed to death two days earlier, on Dec. 1, more than likely by someone he knew, because there was no forced entry. The apartment’s superintendent found the body on Dec. 3, when Plasencia didn’t show up for work at the K-Mart Warehouse in North Bergen for two days.

Possible theft

According to DeFazio, the motive for the murder appears to be robbery, because several credit cards and checks were found in the apartment, but no money whatsoever was spotted.

“We believe it was strictly a cash-driven robbery,” DeFazio said. “Not one dime was found in his apartment.” Plasencia lived in North Bergen for almost 30 years, ever since leaving his native Cuba in 1970. He worked at the K-Mart Warehouse as a checker since 1971. Neighbors and friends recalled Plasencia as a “hard working man who loved everyone, loved to cook and shared his cooking with his neighbors.”

No murder weapon has been found to date. Investigators are not sure whether the perpetrator used his own knife or took a knife from Plasencia’s apartment, then disposed of it while fleeing the scene of the crime.

DeFazio said that nothing will transpire with the case until after the holidays.

“We’re going to take it one step at a time and enlist all the help we can get,” DeFazio said. “We’re not going to let this go away.”


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