Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Daniel Tejeda (age 29), of Providence, was sentenced to life in prison for the March 31, 2015 murder of Ashley Masi. Tejeda was found guilty in April of one count of first degree murder by a Superior Court jury in a trial presided over by Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause. In addition, Tejeda was found to be a habitual offender and sentenced to 25 consecutive years in prison, without the benefit of parole.
During the trial, the State proved that Tejeda murdered 24-year-old mother of three Ashley Masi after an encounter set up through the adult services website backpage.com.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. on March 31, 2015, members of the Providence Police and Providence Fire Departments were dispatched to 216 River Avenue for a report of a female strangled. When Police and Fire entered the residence, they found Ashley Masi in her bedroom with a zip tie secured on her neck and no vital signs. She was transported to Rhode Island Hospital, where she was pronounced deceased. The Rhode Island Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy and determined the cause of death to be a homicide by asphyxiation.
During the investigation, Providence Police learned that the victim had posted an ad offering escort services on backpage.com. A search warrant of the victim's cell phone records revealed numerous incoming and outgoing calls in response to the ad, including a phone identified as belonging to Daniel Tejeda.
A subsequent search warrant of the defendant's phone revealed numerous texts between he and the victim arranging a time for the two to meet, including texts indicating his arrival at the residence and instructions to the third floor.
DNA evidence from the scene, including on the zip tie found around the victim's neck, was determined to be from the defendant. Executing a search warrant on the defendant's residence, police found a bag of the same type of zip ties, with one missing, on which his DNA was found.
"Daniel Tejeda is a murderous predator who violently killed a young mother who was trying to support her family in the only way she knew," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "No matter her choices, she did not deserve this, and certainly her children do not deserve to be left without their mother."
"Daniel Tejeda violently ripped Ashley from this life, her children, her family and her friends. We may never know his motive for this horrific murder, but I believe there is another to blame. Tejeda used the website Backpage.com to arrange that murderous meeting. The website facilitates prostitution and human trafficking, and it is shameful the company hides behind the first amendment to justify the posting of such ads, which in this case as in others, has been the common denominator in other crimes in which women escorts have been murdered," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
Providence Police Detective Michael Otrando led the investigation. Assistant Attorney General Daniel Carr Guglielmo and Special Assistant Attorney General Katelyn Revens prosecuted the case on behalf of the Office of Attorney General.