UPDATE: Victim identified, charges filed, motive revealed (updates throughout) . . .
After Marisela Espinoza failed to show up to work since July 27, her co-workers at Alcoa Fastening Systems in Fullerton called Santa Ana Police on Friday, concerned about her well-being.
That began a chain of events that ended with the 53-year-old woman's husband being charged with murdering her.
Officers arrived at the Espinoza home in the 2400 block of North Wright Street around 10 a.m. Thursday to find the woman's car, but no one answered the door nor the phone inside.
A window was broken to gain entry into the home near Fairhaven Memorial Park.
Marisela Espinoza was found on a bed, dead. She had been beaten with an unknown object.
Detectives, who could not reach the woman's husband, Agustin Armaraz Espinoza, released the license plate number of his car to law enforcement.
A car with that plate was stopped entering the U.S. at the Mexican border Thursday. Agustin Espinoza was behind the wheel. The 55-year-old was returned to Santa Ana for questioning, after which he was arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife with whom he had adult children.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the charges against the man fill in some of the blanks between the discovery of his wife's body and his car being stopped at the border:
- She had asked him to move out of their home for gambling away $100,000 in pension money and was in possession of a pre-paid cell phone containing text messages regarding an extra-marital sexual relationship. (It was previously reported he had been out of work for five years and that the couple was in the process of divorcing.)
- After allegedly murdering his wife and leaving her on the bed of their Santa Ana home, he drove to San Bernardino and tried to use her debit card before driving to Mexico.
- That same day, Espinoza was arrested while re-entering the United States from Mexico.
Espinoza has been charged with one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.
He is being held on $1 million bail and is subject to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.
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However, he is not currently in a jail cell; he's in a hospital bed. While being held in jail for his wife's murder, Espinoza physically harmed himself, according to prosecutors.
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