Columbian Man Arrested In Aruba Charged With Murder Of Transgender Sex Worker In Australia
ORANJESTAD — A 21-year-old Colombian man has been extradited from the Netherlands Antilles to Sydney and charged with the murder of an Australian woman.
The body of 69-year-old Kimberley McRae was found in a Mount Street unit, in the beachside suburb of Coogee, on January 14.
McRae had last been seen in Sydney’s eastern suburbs several days earlier and her body was discovered after family members raised concerns.
The Homicide Squad established Strike Force Onshore to investigate her death, which led them to a suspect in Aruba about a month later.
Officers from the Aruba Police Force arrested Hector Enrique Valencia Valencia on February 26 and he has remained in custody on the island while Australian Police arranged for his extradition.
Last week New South Wales Homicide Squad detectives travelled to Aruba, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and took custody of the Colombian student.
Their flight arrived in Sydney this morning and Valencia was taken to Surry Hills Police Station where he was charged with murder.
He appeared briefly at Sydney’s Central Local Court on a video link from Surry Hills Police Station, wearing a red jumper and a surgical face mask.
No application for bail was made and the case was adjourned until January 19.
In a statement, Kimberley’s twin sister, Karen said the family was still struggling to comprehend her death.
“We are very grateful for the support we have received from Kimberley’s friends and the community during this difficult time,” she said.
“We also wish to extend our sincere appreciation to the NSW Police Force detectives who have supported our family and worked tirelessly to help bring justice for Kimberley, particularly under the challenging circumstances imposed by COVID-19.”
At the time her body was discovered, Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said police were pursuing Ms McRae’s employment as a sex worker as one line of inquiry.
Police said Valencia had been in Australia for some time on a student visa but left shortly after McRae’s death and travelled to South America and then into Aruba.
Det. Supt. Doherty said the delay in the man’s extradition after he was arrested in February was due to international legal complexities.
“Aruba is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and we do have an extradition agreement in place with the Dutch,” he said.
“And so, it was just the legal issues that had to be sorted out prior to us being able to be go there.”
Following that, he said, the Governor of Aruba gave final approval for the extradition to take place.
Det Supt Doherty, who is the commander of the homicide squad, said police worked tirelessly on the investigation and thanked partner agencies.
“Today’s result could not have been achieved without the assistance and support of our international law enforcement partner agencies — particularly the Korps Politie Aruba [Aruba Police Force] and the Australian Federal Police,” he said.
“This has been a difficult and complex investigation for detectives, who have spent months liaising with our partners to safely navigate the challenges and restrictions impacting worldwide travel due to COVID-19.”
He added that the four detectives who travelled to Aruba would now enter a 14-day isolation in hotel quarantine before returning to work.
NSW Police also extended thanks to the FBI and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agencies for their assistance.