A 21-year old Colombian student wanted in relation to the alleged January 14 murder of Sydney transgender woman Kimberley McRae has been extradited from the Caribbean island of Aruba and charged with the 69-year-old’s murder.
Hector Enrique Valencia was arrested on February 26 by officers from the Aruba Police Force, where he has remained in custody since. At the time of McRae’s murder, he had been in Australia on a student visa, however left the country shortly after, traveling to Aruba via South America.
Arriving this morning at Sydney airport, Valencia was transferred to Surry Hills Police station and charged with an outstanding warrant for murder.
Well-known in the local area, McRae was often seen running along the Coogee foreshore in the evenings prior to her death. In March, Police had also revealed McRae had worked in the sex industry, and that this was a line of inquiry they were pursuing.
She disappeared in January several days before her body was discovered following family members raising concerns for her welfare.
Strike Force Onshore was established shortly after to investigate her murder, which led police to a suspect on the Caribbean island of Aruba about a month later.
“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.
“The four homicide squad detectives who travelled to Aruba have now commenced their 14-day isolation in hotel quarantine and will undergo all necessary COVID-19 health checks before returning to work.”
Doherty said the delay in the extradition process after Valencia’s arrest in February was due to international legal complexities, adding, “Aruba is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and we do have an extradition agreement in place with the Dutch.
“And so, it was just the legal issues that had to be sorted out prior to us being able to be go there.”
In an emotional statement released by McRae’s twin sister Karen, her family asked for privacy whilst they tried 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.
“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.”
Appearing briefly via video link at Sydney’s Central Local Court from Surry Hills Police station, no application for bail was made. Valencia will next appear in court on Tuesday, January 19.