Credit: Courtney Cohn

A 21-year-old woman from Gaithersburg was arrested and charged Monday with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of her boyfriend, Jose Manuel Zavala Marquez, 20, of Gaithersburg, Montgomery County Police said.

Jennifer Abigail Espinoza Orellana allegedly stabbed Zavala Marquez outside her home in Gaithersburg around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to charging documents. She then drove him to Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in a blue Honda Civic, according to charging documents.

Espinoza Orellana entered the hospital, saying her boyfriend had been stabbed and he was “not showing vital signs” upon arrival at the hospital, according to the charging documents.

Around 5:51 a.m., police said they responded to a report of a man dropped off with bodily trauma at that hospital.

Espinoza Orellana lied multiple times to police about the events that occurred on Sunday, the charging documents said.

Initially, Espinoza Orellana said that her sister received a text message from Zavala Marquez saying he had been stabbed, and her sister informed Espinoza Orellana and told her his location, the charging documents stated.


Then, Espinoza Orellana said that she found him alone and suffering from a single stab wound at Apple Ridge and Watkins Mill roads; she then said she placed him in the Civic and drove him to the hospital, according to the charging documents.

Espinoza Orellana said she came to the hospital alone and believed Zavala Marques was suicidal and addicted to drugs, and she told hospital staff that she was leaving to inform her boyfriend’s family what happened, the charging document said.

She returned to the hospital at 8:30 a.m. to meet with detectives, in a different vehicle, which she said was because she rear-ended a vehicle while leaving the hospital earlier that morning, according to charging documents.


Police drove with her to Apple Ridge Road, and she told officers where she found her boyfriend, according to charging documents.

Then, while police drove with her to her house, she admitted to her first lie: She gave them the wrong location; she said he was “stabbed near her home and possibly by herself,” according to charging documents.

She also admitted that she had not been in a collision while leaving the hospital and “drove a different vehicle to hide any potential evidence inside the blue Honda Civic,” the charging documents state.


Police obtained a search and seizure warrant of her house, and during their search, they found “items of evidentiary value,” police said.

She then consented to be taken to police headquarters for an interview and admitted another lie: she does not have a sister, according to charging documents.

The charging documents also said that at the start of the interview, she denied that there was another person present at the stabbing.


Espinoza Orellana told police that her friend was with her and her boyfriend earlier that evening drinking alcohol at her house at the 8000 block of Shady Spring Drive in Gaithersburg, the charging documents said.

At some point that night, according to charging documents, Zavala Marques and Espinoza Orellana began arguing and Espinoza Orellana said her boyfriend grabbed a knife from the kitchen and threatened to hurt himself if she ended their relationship.

Espinoza Orellana said that Zavala Marques ran out the back door, and she caught up to him in a field next to her house, the charging documents state.


Espinoza Orellana told police she then grabbed the knife from him and stabbed him once in the chest. During their exchange in the field, Espinoza Orellana stated Zavala Marques attempted to or had begun choking her in the field, according to charging documents.

However, during the interview, detectives said they did not observe any “defects to Espinoza Orellana’s throat or eyes,” as reported in the charging documents.

After allegedly stabbing her boyfriend, Espinoza Orellana said that she and her friend carried him to her car and placed him in the rear passenger compartment, charging documents stated.


She said she then drove to the hospital with Kaitlin but had her get out of the car before entering the hospital grounds. The court believes she did this to conceal Kaitlin’s involvement from the police, charging documents said.

Also, during the interview, she told police that she actually “had no knowledge of contact information, full names, or the address of Zavala Marquesa family.” Therefore, there is no way she could have been leaving the hospital to tell them what happened, the charging documents said.

The court believes that she left the hospital so quickly to avoid being identified by police, as indicated in the charging documents.


She had the knife, and her boyfriend’s backpack in her car and had his cell phone in her purse, charging documents state.

Zavala Marquez’s body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy, according to police.

Espinoza Orellana was arrested and transported to the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit, where she is being held without bond. Her bond review hearing was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday, according to the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.


There is no attorney information listed for Espinoza Orellana in the Maryland judiciary case search.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.