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Suspects in murders of mom, daughter in Worcester have lengthy criminal histories: Read the charges

WORCESTER, Mass. — The two suspects in the murders of a mother and daughter who were found shot to death in a bullet-riddled SUV in Worcester earlier this week have lengthy criminal histories , court documents showed.

Karel Mangual, 28, has since been arrested and arraigned on charges of armed assault to murder and carrying a firearm without a license in the Tuesday daylight killings of 27-year-old Chasity Nuñez and her 11-year-old daughter, Zella.

The SUV their bodies were found in was towed away from the crime scene with more than a dozen bullet holes in the driver’s side windows. Sgt. Sean Murtha, Public Information Officer for the Worcester Police Department, said a “fairly high number” of shots were fired into the vehicle.

Law enforcement agencies on Friday were still trying to track down 27-year-old Dejan Belnavis, who is also wanted on charges of armed assault with intent to murder and carrying a firearm without a license in connection with the double murder.

Prosecutors say Mangual and Belnavis fled the scene of the murders on Englewood Avenue in the city’s Columbus Park neighborhood and got into a getaway car that was later recovered in Harford, Connecticut.

Mangual was spotted getting out of a vehicle in Hartford with Belnavis, around an hour after the deadly shooting took place, according to prosecutors.

Belnavis and Mangual are no strangers to run-ins with law enforcement, according to Worcester District Court documents obtained by Boston 25 News. The two have faced a slew of violent charges that date back to 2014.

Belnavis has previously been charged with the following offenses:

  • Drug possession charge in 2023
  • Two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charges in 2021 -- was found guilty of one count
  • License suspended in 2020
  • Breaking and entering charge in 2018
  • One count of strangulation/suffocation, one count of assault and battery on a family member charges in 2018 -- accused of punching girlfriend repeatedly, strangling her to the point where she almost passed out -- charges dismissed
  • License suspended, excessive speeding charges in 2019
  • Drug possession charges in 2019
  • Drug possession charge in 2016
  • Drug possession, unlicensed operation, and speeding charges in 2016
  • License suspended, failure to yield at an intersection charge in 2016
  • Drug possession, unlicensed operation charges in 2016
  • Uninsured motor vehicle charge, registration suspended in 2017
  • Resisting arrest charge in 2017 -- found guilty
  • Drug possession to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug law charges in 2017
  • Marijuana possession, drug possession, conspiracy to violate drug charges

Mangual has previously been charged with the following offenses:

  • Assault to murder charge in 2014 -- accused of sending a man to the hospital after firing multiple rounds at him -- dismissed
  • Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (motor vehicle) charge in 2019 -- found guilty and identified by police as a gang member
  • Liquor possession under the age of 21 charge in 2014

Chastity Nuñez was a member of the Connecticut National Guard and received honors like the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Army Achievement Medal.

She also served as a Patient Safety & Clinical Quality Program Coordinator at MIT Health since July 2023.

Zella was a student at Worcester Public Schools. The school district called her death “unimaginable” and a “terrible tragedy.”

Mangual is being held without bail and will reappear in court for a dangerousness hearing later this month.

Anyone with information on Belnavis’ whereabouts is urged to contact Worcester police.

An investigation into Chastity and Zella’s deaths remains ongoing.

WATCH LIVE: Worcester police speaking as manhunt for suspect in deaths of mom, daughter continues.

WATCH LIVE: Worcester police speaking as manhunt for suspect in deaths of mom, daughter continues.

Posted by Boston 25 News on Friday, March 8, 2024

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