Salem

Salem, Mass., man charged with murder in girlfriend's disappearance

The woman who died was Nayeli Nieves, 20, the mother of two young children, authorities say

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A Salem, Massachusetts, man is facing a murder charge in a woman's disappearance, according to local authorities, who said that a search is still ongoing for the victim's body.

Pablo Vicente, 33, was arrested in connection with the woman's disappearance and killing, Essex County authorities said, and he appeared in court for an arraignment later Tuesday, where a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf and he was ordered held without bail.

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The woman who died was Nayeli Nieves, 20, authorities said. She had two young children, 3 years and 18 months old, who were placed in the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

The couple was fighting over cheating allegations, according to court documents, with Vicente allegedly pushing on her throat, causing her to lose consciousness several times as he was looking through her cellphone.

Her death is "another example of terrible domestic violence, a young mother taken by violence from her partner," Essex District Attorney Paul Tucker said at a news conference after his arraignment.

Prosecutors said that Vicente confessed to relative that he killed Nieves, who was his girlfriend, and got rid of her body in a dumpster. Police were still searching for her body as of Tuesday afternoon, but investigators had found evidence at Vicente and Nieves' Pope Street home that corroborated the story.

Police in Salem got a report on Monday that the woman involved "had been harmed," a news release said. State police detectives with the DA's office looked into it, and "developed further evidence of foul play."

Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller said a family member of Vicente's is believed to have reached out to a Lynn detective they knew, who passed the information on to Salem police.

Asked about the whereabouts of Nieves' body, Miller said, "we are actively searching. We have found what I would call evidence."

Police have previously been called to a situation involving Nieves and Vicente, Miller said, and court records showed Vicente was accused of assaulting her in 2019 in Salem, then again this April in Lowell.

Family members of Nieves said they blamed the system for her death, pointing to Vicente's history of alleged abuse.

"If he would have never been let around her and her children, she'd probably still be here today," said Janessa Sosa, Nieves' sister-in-law.

Vicente is due back in court on Sept. 8.

Miller also said another person was wanted over a separate, unrelated alleged instance of domestic violence involving Nieves, but didn't share more details.

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