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Press Release

Ex-Employee of Federal Law Enforcement Agency Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping His Wife, Who was Murdered after the Abduction

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A former federal employee pleaded guilty today to a federal kidnapping charge for plotting to abduct and kill his estranged wife, who was strangled to death in 2016.

Eddy Reyes, 38, of Covina, pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping resulting in death.

Reyes was a civilian employee of U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the time of his wife’s death and when he was arrested in this case in April 2021. He has been in federal custody since his arrest.

“We sincerely hope this successful prosecution brings some closure to the family of the victim, who was murdered in cold blood by her husband,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Those who commit horrific acts of violence of this sort will feel the full weight of the law.”

“Mr. Reyes meticulously planned the brutal murder of Claudia Sanchez Reyes and then covered his tracks to evade the scrutiny of law enforcement, a community to which he once belonged,” said Mehtab Syed, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The hard work by investigators and prosecutors in this case leading to today’s guilty plea will hopefully bring a measure of justice to Claudia’s family in El Salvador.”

According to his plea agreement, Reyes met the victim, Claudia Sanchez Reyes, in El Salvador in 2014. Reyes eventually married the victim and brought her and their son to the United States. Court documents previously filed in this case allege a history of domestic abuse by Reyes against his wife, who obtained temporary restraining orders against him in 2014 and 2016.

By 2016, Reyes suspected his wife was having an affair and he decided to kill her. Reyes then contacted his estranged half-brother – a one-time gang member and gravedigger in El Salvador identified in court documents as “P.O.,” who is now deceased – about killing the victim.

On May 6, 2016, Reyes telephoned his wife at her job and told her that he wanted to take her to dinner that night and told her not to take an Uber home, which was her usual practice. At approximately 8 p.m. that night, Reyes drove a rented Hyundai Santa Fe and picked her up from work, after previously lying to her that the vehicle was a gift.

Instead of taking his wife out to dinner, Reyes drove to his mother’s house in Orange, pulled into the garage and closed the door. Once the door was closed, P.O. jumped from the SUV’s cargo area into the back seat and grabbed the victim, who was in the front passenger seat. P.O. punched Claudia Reyes in the face, cutting her lip, then took a seat belt and strangled her. She was 21 years old. Reyes helped P.O. push the victim’s dead body from the front passenger seat into the SUV’s cargo area.

Reyes further admitted in court that, the following day, he drove to the Santa Ana apartment he shared with his wife, turned on her telephone he had turned off the night before, and, posing as his wife, used her phone to send a text message to one of her co-workers saying she would not be in to work that day. P.O., also using the victim’s phone, texted a paralegal working for the victim’s divorce lawyer that stated she no longer need the lawyer’s services.

P.O. also used Claudia Reyes’ phone to text her mother and, pretending to be the victim, he wrote that she had met another man, was leaving Reyes and their son, that she was about to disconnect the phone, and wishing her a happy Mother’s Day.

On May 19, 2016, Reyes drove to a parking lot at Los Angeles International Airport and threw in the trash a backpack containing a blanket and rags that P.O. used to wipe down the seatbelt and interior of the SUV where Claudia Reyes was killed.

After Reyes filed a missing person report four days later, police conducted an investigation that revealed co-workers heard Claudia Reyes fighting with her husband on May 6 soon before he picked her up in the rented SUV, according to the affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, which notes detectives later found a drop of Claudia Reyes’ blood in that vehicle and a cadaver dog indicated that a dead body had been in the SUV.

“In committing these acts, [Reyes] admits that he lured Claudia S. into the Hyundai Santa Fe on the night of May 6, 2016, with the promise of taking her to dinner, when in fact the plan was to kill her,” Reyes admitted in this plea agreement.

United States District Judge Josephine L. Staton scheduled an August 2 sentencing hearing, at which time Reyes will face a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment. In exchange for his confession, federal prosecutors have agreed to ask Judge Staton to sentence Reyes to no more than 30 years in federal prison.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Santa Ana Police Department, and the Orange County Violent Gang Task Force, which is comprised of several federal, state, and local agencies. Assistance was provided by Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the Irvine Police Department, and the Transnational Anti-gang Unit of El Salvador.

Assistant United States Attorney Gregory W. Staples of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.


Thom Mrozek
Director of Media Relations
(213) 894-6947

Updated April 19, 2024

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-084