District Attorney Hoovler Announces Murder Charges
In Death of Missing City of Newburgh Woman
Man Indicted for Murdering 36-Year-Old Woman
Victim Missing Since November 3, 2019
Body of Victim Not Recovered
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced on Friday, November 6, 2020, that Matthew Mercado, 37, of Newburgh, was arraigned before Orange County Court Judge William L. DeProspo on charges including Murder in the Second Degree, in connection with the death of 36-year-old Jessica Lopez, a City of Newburgh woman who was last seen on November 3, 2019, at the Windsor Motel in the Town of New Windsor.
Mercado had previously been indicted on charges including Burglary in the Second Degree for breaking into room 32 of the Windsor Motel on November 3, 2019, at about 1:35 AM, and stealing two bags from the three young woman who had been sleeping in the room at the time. Mercado has been continually incarcerated since his arrest on November 6, 2019, in connection with those charges. The District Attorney’s Office superseded that case in the Grand Jury and asked the Grand Jury to consider additional evidence concerning the disappearance of Jessica Lopez, who had been staying with Mercado in room 33 of the Windsor Motel the night of Saturday, November 2, 2019, into the morning of Sunday, November 3, 2019. The Grand Jury indicted Mercado for Murder in the Second Degree for intentionally killing Jessica Lopez in room 33 of the motel as Ms. Lopez was attempting to leave the motel at approximately 5:00 AM on November 3, 2019. The Grand Jury also indicted Mercado for a separate count of Murder in the Second Degree for having killed Ms. Lopez during the commission of a robbery or kidnapping of her. Robbery under the law is forcibly stealing property. Mercado is charged with two counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree for having stolen Ms. Lopez bank card and stealing approximately $1,500 from her account, most of which was taken out in ATM withdrawals starting at approximately 9:00 AM on November 3, 2019.
Mercado is also charged with three felony counts of Tampering with Physical Evidence. One count alleges that he removed Ms. Lopez’s body from room 33, placed her in the trunk of her car, drove the car to an unknown location and concealed the body. Another count alleges that he deleted text messages between her cellular telephone and his cellular telephone, messages that were sent at about 5:30 AM on November 3, 2019. The third count of Tampering with Physical Evidence alleges that he disposed of Ms. Lopez’s cellular telephone so it could not be used as evidence.
The Grand Jury indicted Mercado again for Burglary in the Second Degree for breaking into room 32 and stealing bags from the three young woman, and added a charge of Criminal Impersonation in the Second Degree for Mercado having told the three young woman that he would not give their bags back and that he was an undercover police officer.
Bail was set in the amount of one-million dollars cash, or three-million dollars secured bond, or ten-million dollars partially secured bond. The case is next scheduled for a virtual conference in County Court on December 2, 2020. Mercado faces up to twenty-five years to life in state prison on the charges of Murder in the Second Degree and up to an additional fifteen years in state prison on the charge of Burglary in the Second Degree.
District Attorney Hoovler highly commended the Town of New Windsor Police Department for their investigation and unceasing efforts in the case, as well as the many law enforcement agencies that aided in the investigation, including the Town of Newburgh Police Department, the City of Newburgh Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, and the New York State Police, as well as the civilian volunteers who have searched for Jessica Lopez.
“By all accounts Jessica Lopez was a remarkable young woman and her loss is being severely felt by her family, friends, and many of her former students,” said District Attorney David M. Hoovler. “While recovering her remains will continue to be a high priority for us, we are fully prepared to litigate this case even without her body being recovered. Murder convictions without bodies are permissible under the law and in fact such convictions have occurred before here in Orange County. My heartfelt condolences go out to Ms. Lopez’s family, and my office will do everything in our power to see that the person responsible for her death faces just punishment.”
Chief Robert Doss of the Town of New Windsor Police Department said, “I would like to thank every member of the New Windsor Police Department that worked so diligently on this investigation. It is because of their hard work, along with the assistance of all the other police agencies, that made a difference in this case. I also want to thank District Attorney David Hoovler and his staff for their unwavering support through the process. We will never forget the family of Jessica Lopez, who have been without her in their lives for over a year now. Her mother, father and brother, all live with the constant pain of her loss. I speak for every member of Law Enforcement that worked on this investigation when I say that we stand with them and we will continue to fight for Jessica every day until justice is brought in this case. Our hearts go out to her family and we will continue to pray for them. It is my hope that the news of this indictment will at least begin the process of closure to Jessica’s family and everyone that knew her.”
The case is being prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Borek and Senior Assistant District Attorney Kelle Grimmer.
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.