A man who jumped to his death from a parking garage last weekend after confessing to murdering his girlfriend and her two young children was a convicted member of the ruthless MS-13 gang living in the US illegally who had previously been deported.
Court records indicate that 37-year-old Jose Iraheta Palacios would still have been behind bars on Saturday if most of a nine-year prison sentence not been suspended by a judge who then ordered him deported in 2017.
But Palacios, who went by the nickname 'Little Crazy' returned to the US and police found him at around 6am that morning kneeling on the roof of a parking garage in Reston, Virginia, and making suicidal statements.
Convicted MS-13 gang member Jose Iraheta Palacios, 37 (left), allegedly killed his girlfriend Claudia Menjivar, 34, and her children, Carlos Josue Gutierrez, 10, and Dayana Gutierrez, 12 (pictured together, right), in Virginia on Saturday
Palacios (pictured atop a parking garage in Reston, Virginia) jumped to his death after reportedly confessing to the murders
He allegedly told police that he had killed his girlfriend, Claudia Menjivar, 34, during an argument about a suspected infidelity, along with her two children, 10-year-old Carlos Josue Gutierrez and his sister, Dayana Gutierrez, who was turning 12 that day.
The mother and children were killed while getting ready for Dayana's birthday celebration.
Palacios, who was in the US illegally, allegedly killed his mom-of-three girlfriend during an argument over infidelity
Despite officers' efforts to dissuade Palacios from committing suicide, he ended up leaping to his death.
Police then rushed to Menjivar's apartment in the 500 block of Florida Avenue in Herndon and discovered the bodies of Menjivar and her children.
Police have not revealed how the victims died, but Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said the scene inside the apartment was 'horrific.'
According to reporting by Fox 5 DC, Palacios was an undocumented immigrant who was arrested in 2015 on a slew of charges related to his participation in the MS-13, gang.
They included human trafficking; gang recruitment; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; aiding illicit sexual intercourse and obstruction of justice.
Police in Manassas, Virginia, said that the charges stemmed from a gang initiation ritual in November 2014, during which a 15-year-old girl was assaulted by MS-13 members.
Palacios ultimately pleaded guilty to counts of human trafficking, gang recruitment of a juvenile and gang participation, and was sentenced to nine years.
After serving just two years in state prison, a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge suspended the remainder of Palacios' sentence, and he was deported.
At some point between 2017 and last weekend, Palacios had returned to the US.
Juan Carlos Gutierrez, the biological father of Menjivar's children, said he did not know Palacios.
‘[I] don’t know why they let him out.’ he told Fox 5 DC of Palacios.
The father's sister, Erlinda Gutierrez, described Menjivar to The Washington Post as a good mother who had come to the US from El Salvador and worked hard as a hotel housekeeper to provide for her children.
Menjivar's daughter, Dayana (right), was getting ready to celebrate her 12th birthday on the day she was killed
She is survived by her 16-year-old son, Roberto, who is living with his grandparents in El Salvador.
Menjivar's sister, Dora, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help send her body back to their home country for burial.
‘She always said if something happened to her, her wish was to be buried back in our country El Salvador,’ the sister wrote. ‘Our parents are elderly and it is their last wish; to see their daughter one last time in El Salvador.’
Dora Menjivar also stated in the fundraiser’s description that her slain sister lived for her children, and 'they adored their mom and now they are in heaven together.’