Two Rhode Island men are facing murder and conspiracy charges in the killing of a pregnant Massachusetts woman whose body was found in a pond last year, according to state police.
A fisherman found the body of 34-year-old Leila Duarte Da Luz, of Brockton, in Carbuncle Pond in Coventry, Rhode Island, on Dec. 21, according to WJAR. Investigators said she had "several lacerations to her head" and her death was considered suspicious.
The following day, the state medical examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy and confirmed the manner of death as homicide and that the victim was pregnant. Family members told WJAR in February that Da Luz was two months pregnant and had been living in Brockton at the time of her death.
On Tuesday, Rhode Island State Police charged Gary Gromkiewicz, 35, of Lincoln, with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Police said Gromkiewicz is the father of the woman's unborn baby and was on probation for a 2015 felony assault with a deadly weapon conviction.
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Also arrested was Michael Lambert, 46, of Pawtucket, who state police said is a known associate of Gromkiewicz. He is also charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He was free on parole in a 1995 murder conviction.
Gromkiewicz was being held at Rhode Island State Police headquarters pending his arraignment Wednesday. Lambert is being held at the Adult Correctional Institutions for violating his parole. No details were released on when he might appear in court.
"I want to commend our Troopers and partners in law enforcement for their exceptional diligence and hard work in pursuit of justice for Ms. Da Luz," Col. Darnell S. Weaver, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police said in a statement. "On behalf of the Rhode Island State Police, I extend my condolences to the loved ones of Ms. Da Luz at this difficult time."
State police said detectives executed 53 search warrants related to the murder investigation.
"The evidence collected required a massive amount of time and effort for investigators to analyze the technical data and physical evidence. But with this information, coupled with numerous witness interviews, detectives established the framework for the criminal charges brought forth today," state police said in a release.
The investigation was led by Rhode Island State police, with assistance from Massachusetts State Police, Brockton police, Lincoln police, Coventry police, the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security, the FBI and other Rhode Island agencies.
Neighbors of Gromkiewicz told WJAR they were shocked to learn of his arrest.
"You never know who you live next to. That's all you gotta say. You never know who you live next to," said Wayne Rogers.
"I'm almost at a loss for words because of it you know. I have kids. He has kids, so it kind of hits close to home," added James Parmenter.