A Winter Haven, Florida woman is the second suspect to be arrested in connection to the murder of 20-year-old Sierra Hernandez, after human remains were found in a pile of burned objects.
FOX 13 in Tampa Bay reported that 44-year-old Daphne Fernandez appeared in court on Wednesday and faces charges of attempted felony murder, abuse of a body, kidnapping and accessory after the fact.
Her appearance came one day after Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 26-year-old Enrique Martinez, who is a suspect in the murder of Hernandez as well as Edil Rodriguez, who was murdered at a homeless camp on Nov. 8, 2023.
Martinez had been on the run for two months, but on Tuesday he was spotted wandering on a sidewalk near Cooley Road and SR 540 in Winter Haven, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
“He was pretty good at avoiding us for a period of time, but our deputies and detectives, who are the very best, never gave up,” Judd said.
The station reported that court documents show that on Jan. 14, Rita Thomas, Hernandez’s mother, reported her daughter had been missing for several days.
An investigation discovered that a witness said he saw Fernandez at her home in Winter Haven on Jan. 10 with Martinez, who was already wanted for the first-degree murder of Rodriguez.
The witness told investigators Martinez and Fernandez were standing in her son’s room where he saw someone else, believed to be Hernandez, with her wrists and hands bound, and being held against her will.
When the witness intervened and asked what Fernandez and Martinez were doing, the latter charged at the witness, who ran from the home.
On Jan. 15, Fernandez was spotted driving Hernandez’s Ford Crown Victoria in the Lakeland, Florida area, and was pulled over by a Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy.
She was ultimately arrested for driving on a suspended license.
The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant at Fernandez’s home four days after her arrest, and while executing the search, investigators allegedly found Hernandez’s medical paperwork from Jan. 8.
Investigators also alleged they found a large pile of burned items in the backyard of the home, which included human remains.
Upon further investigation, detectives claim Fernandez lied about why she was in possession of Hernandez’s vehicle, assisted in concealing the 20-year-old’s murder and provided aid to Martinez to avoid being arrested.
Fernandez remains in custody at the Polk County Jail and is being held on $1 million bond.
Fox News Digital’s Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.