Man charged with first degree murder of Renton businesswoman

Renton Police told the Renton Reporter that suspect Louis Hernandez was Reyna Hernandez’s former partner who had previously assaulted and threatened her.

After the Feb. 26 disappearance and then the March 2 discovery of Reyna Hernandez’s body in Mexico, her former partner, 61-year-old suspect Louie Hernandez, has been formally charged with first degree murder.

On May 6, the Renton Police Department announced that Louie Hernandez had been initially arrested for drugs and possession of ammunition in Mexico before becoming the main suspect in 54-year-old Reyna’s death. In April, the Renton Police Department and King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had taken over the investigation.

According to the charging documents, Reyna, a transgender woman who owned her own salon in Renton, had previously been in a relationship with Hernandez (who was often referred to as “Alex”) and had left him for another man. At the time of her disappearance, Reyna had been dating another man named Jesus Martinez for several months and had been living with him for about a week.

Martinez told police that on Feb. 18, Reyna had ended her relationship with Hernandez, who then retaliated by punching her in the face, which caused bruising on her left eye. Martinez also reported that Reyna had told him that Hernandez had threatened to kill her that day because she had left him for someone else, according to charging documents.

On Feb. 26, Reyna told that Martinez that she was planning on going over to Hernandez’s house to “arrange finishing up the relationship.” According to the charging documents, Reyna was driving her maroon and white Ford Flex when she went to Hernandez’s home, which was owned by his son Eric Castaneda, who also lived there.

According to police, evidence shows that, within minutes of Reyna entering the house, Hernandez had shot her in the head with a .32 caliber bullet. Video surveillance then showed Hernandez moving Reyna’s Ford Flex and Castaneda’s Jeep to the front of the garage and positioning both vehicles in a way that obscured the view of the garage from the street.

Hernandez then used the winch system on Castaneda’s Jeep to drag Reyna’s body into the back of her Ford, as Reyna was physically larger than Hernandez, and he then drove her vehicle to Mexico, according to charging documents.

On Feb. 28, the Renton Police Department was contacted about Reyna’s disappearance. Their investigation led them to the Renton home where Hernandez and Castaneda lived, the latter telling police that he did not know where his father or Reyna were.

Castenada allowed police to gather evidence in the home, where they found Reyna’s phone on the armrest of a couch, which had an Xfinity home security app that provided the video evidence of the exterior of the house, and a towel from the bedroom with blood on it, according to charging documents.

On March 1, officials found a significant amount of blood in the room where Hernandez and Reyna had stayed in when she lived there. A few weeks later, Castenada told police that he and his brother had found a shell casing of a .32 caliber bullet while cleaning near the location of the large amounts of blood, according to charging documents.

Phone records indicated that Hernandez had left Renton at 11:17 a.m. Feb. 26, which was almost an hour after Reyna had entered his house, and that he had traveled to Seattle before arriving in Calexico, California, 47.5 hours later.

On March 8, Renton police were informed by Castenada that a news article in the Mexicali area of Mexico had reported on an unidentified transgender woman’s body being found in a cemetery and that local police were seeking identification assistance. Photos of Reyna’s tattoos were then sent to Mexico, confirming her identity.

Evidence gathered at the cemetery showed that Reyna was wrapped in a blanket and had been tied to a tree by her ankle. Police say that Hernandez had backed the Ford up to the tree, tied Reyna to the tree, and then drove away with the back of the vehicle open so that her body would be pulled out and onto the ground, according to charging documents. She was then discovered on March 2.

On March 10, investigators learned that Hernandez had been arrested at a Mexican military checkpoint for possessing fentanyl, methadone, and two 19 rounds of .223 ammunition. Hernandez is currently in a Mexican jail, and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Office of International Affairs of the U.S. Department of Justice are seeking to extradite him to Washington state for trial.

King County prosecutor’s have requested Louie’s bail be set at $5 million.

In an interview with the Renton Reporter, Reyna’s sister, Ivonne Carillo-Hernandez, said that Reyna was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and that she and Reyna were close when they were growing up.

She told the Renton Reporter that Reyna was an energetic, positive kid and that she had gone on to make her childhood dreams come true by opening her own beauty salon, Reyna’s Hair Salon in Renton.

At her salon, one of Reyna’s clients named Nancy Ossorio became a close friend and like family. Ossorio told the Renton Reporter that Reyna would always make people feel special and give them hope in life, and she would help a lot of women who would go through abuse.

“Reyna wasn’t just a stylist. I would always say she was like a heart doctor because people would show up for a haircut, but in reality, what people would come to fix were their emotions and heart,” Ossorio said. “You could show up sad or with any problem, and she would always have the right words to help you feel happy and find meaning in things.”