PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A man accused of strangling a woman to death in Providence in late March is already in federal custody on unrelated charges, city police announced Tuesday.
The Providence County Grand Jury handed out an indictment charging Daniel Tejeda with first-degree murder, according to the attorney general’s office.
Tejeda, 28, is accused of killing 24-year-old Ashley Masi inside her third-floor apartment on River Avenue on March 31.
Police responded to the apartment for a well-being check and found Masi unresponsive. She was later pronounced dead at Rhode Island Hospital.
According to police, investigators determined that Tejeda was responding to an advertisement for an escort service posted by Masi on backpage.com at the time of her murder.
Masi was the mother of twin 6-year-old girls and a 7-month-old baby, who are now in state care. At the time of her death, the children were with her mother.
Police said they’ve been monitoring activity on backpage.com for months, and continue to do so. They arrested 35 men in March and April for soliciting for sex on the website.
“It’s a thorn in the side of law enforcement not only here in Rhode Island, but around the country,” said Police Chief Hugh Clements, “and really it’s horrific what’s happening to some of the people who are depicted. There’s also some human trafficking involved with some of these young girls that they may not even be aware of.”
The Rhode Island attorney general’s office told the Providence Journal Tejeda was previously convicted of identity theft and bank robbery, and is in custody awaiting sentencing for violating supervised release. He’s currently being held at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls. A date for his arraignment has not yet been scheduled.