Ex-Marine linked to 2009 death of Navy sailor

The Washington Examiner

By Emily Babay

Amanda J. Snell was a 20-year-old Navy intelligence specialist and a youth minister at an Alexandria church when she was found dead in her Henderson Hall barracks room in Arlington in July 2009.

More than a year and half later, prosecutors are preparing to charge a former Marine corporal with a violent past in her death, according to Snell’s mother and a law enforcement source.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia says it plans to charge Jorge A. Torrez in the case, Snell’s mother, Cynthia, told The Washington Examiner.

A prosecutor with the attorney’s office told her Torrez was a Marine, Cynthia Snell said, and only one Jorge A. Torrez exists in military service records, according to the office of Manpower and Reserve Affairs. A law enforcement source confirmed that federal authorities are pursuing Torrez in the Snell case.

Torrez, who also goes by George, was convicted in Arlington County in October of abducting and raping one woman and robbing another in separate attacks. Those assaults took place while he was stationed at Henderson Hall.

He is also linked through DNA evidence to the May 2005 slayings of two young girls in Zion, Ill., where he used to live. One girl’s father spent five years in jail before charges were dropped when the DNA match to Torrez came to light through a national database last summer. Torrez has not been charged in Illinois.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said he couldn’t discuss whether charges are pending in a case. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is continuing to follow leads, spokesman Ed Buice said. He declined to comment further.

The Navy and Fort Myers-Henderson Hall base referred questions to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Jason Rucker, Torrez’s attorney in the Arlington case, declined to comment.

“There’s a sense of relief,” said Snell, who lives in Las Vegas. “But a parent is not supposed to outlive their child.”

The circumstances of Amanda’s Snell’s death have remained a mystery. Military officials won’t release details, and Cynthia Snell said she has never received a death certificate.

When Amanda Snell was found dead July 13, 2009, after having missed a work shift, no one suspected she had killed herself, said Rachael Ping, who was Snell’s supervisor at the time.

Ping said she didn’t know if Torrez and Snell knew each other, but they lived about eight doors apart. In the male-dominated barracks, “everyone would have known she was there,” Ping said.

Torrez was sentenced in December to five life terms in prison for raping and abducting an Arlington woman, after having restrained the woman and her friend in a house. He was also convicted of trying to lead a woman into his car and robbing her of her purse.

Snell joined the Navy in August 2007. She had a “strong sense of serving her country,” her mother said.

Ping said Snell was living at Henderson Hall in order to be close to her job at the Pentagon.

“We thought it would be safer,” she said.

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