The case looked pretty simple when Segundo Fajardo and his wife Rosa Montenegro arrived at Danbury Hospital to be treated for injuries received in a car jacker's assault.
(The following account is drawn from the arrest warrant application on file at Danbury Superior Court.)
This was the first story they told. Fajardo picked his wife up from her hotel job on July 29 between 3:30 and 4 p.m. They drove to a deli for a snack, and when they climbed back into their car, a man was waiting for them with a gun. He forced them at gunpoint to drive to a wooded area, where he beat and slashed Montenegro in the face. Fajardo required no treatment. Montenegro said she passed out while being slashed, and Fajardo said he passed out, too. When he woke up, he freed himself and his wife. They drove around until they found some place familiar, and then drove to Danbury Hospital.
They discovered they lost about $1,000 in cash, cell phones and jewelry. Montenegro's injuries were serious, and she required surgery. The police were called for the possible kidnapping, assault and robbery, and started investigating. Police found the missing cell phones, jewelry and a wallet with $124.00 in the back of Fajardo's car.
The police decided to take Fajardo through the motions of picking up his wife and driving to the deli to figure out what happened next. At the hotel, police learned Montenegro clocked out of work at 3:18 p.m. and waited for her husband to pick her up.
Next they found the deli, but the deli security camera didn't show them anything of value. The clerk remembered Fajardo and a woman coming in earlier.
They returned to the hospital, where Montenegro was released from surgery and free to speak at about 11:50 p.m.
Montenegro reported the same story, adding that the suspect was still there when her husband freed her, and they dropped the suspect off somewhere before they reached the hospital.
The next day, the detective working the case, Paul Carroccio, saw a video from a liquor store next to the deli. It appeared to show Fajardo dropping off the kidnapping suspect at the deli a few minutes before he picked up his wife and returned to the deli.
A Danbury police officer who saw the video identified Benjamin Serrano of Danbury as the kidnapping suspect.
Montenegro said in her statement, "He started to tape my hands together with gray, wide tape. He also put tape over my mouth and eyes. He then got me out of the car and walked me for a few minutes next to a tree. I could see a little bit out of the tape and know that there was some running water near me too. He then told me not to move and then left me for a few minutes, I believe to get my husband," Montenegro said in her statement to police. "He then came back and punched me in the face. I passed out after that and don't remember what he did to me next. A little while later, my husband was waking me up and asking, "What did they do to you?" I thought I was bleeding from my nose from when he punched me, and didn't even know he had cut my face."
"We found our car and my husband gave me some clothes to help with the bleeding. We got in the car and I thought I heard the bad guys voice in the car but my husband said he was not there any more. My husband drove for a long time then realized we were in Bethel and then we drove right to the hospital."
As the statement continued, Montenegro admitted she and her husband had separated four months earlier and he was angry she had, "developed a male friend." She said it was not a romantic relationship, but Fajardo was not happy about it. When asked who was in the car the first time they pulled into the deli, Montenegro looked shocked. She insisted they only went into the deli one time that day. They drove to the deli from work and it was just her and her husband in the car.
"She said she had been nervous about telling us about the separation because she thought the attack might be her fault because her male friend was married. She also told us that when she was taped up, and before she was punched by the suspect, he told her he was paid to kill her for what she had done."
Police then confronted Fajardo with the video tape evidence that showed he had driven to the deli twice on July 29, and he hadn't climbed out of the car the first time, but his passenger did. His passenger was the same man who accosted the couple on Fajardo's second visit to the deli.
"Fajardo had a difficult time explaining this and eventually stated that he was the one who had set up the whole thing. Fajardo was upset with his wife having a male friend and was told by his friends he needed to send her a message to scare her."
Fajardo then admitted he picked a stranger (already identified as Benjamin Serrano, City Streets, Danbury, he hired that day) to scare his wife. The going cost to hire someone to beat fear into your wife? "Some beer." Serrano went too far with the beating, Fajardo claims, but he said he gave Serrano a ride back to Danbury after the beating.
Montenegro later identified Serrano in a photographi lineup, and police charged Fajardo with first-degree conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and false reporting an incident. Fajardo fled to Ecuador on Aug. 3 as the arrest warrant was being prepared.
Police charged Benjamin Serrano, 52, City Streets, Danbury, with first-degree conspiracy to commit kidnapping, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery. Serrano was arraigned on Monday and his case was continued to Aug. 29.