SAN DIEGO - A Murrieta man is suspected of killing his wife, an Escondido police officer, and attempting to burn down their house to cover up the crime, authorities reported Thursday.
Freddy Perez Rodas, 27, was arrested Wednesday night and booked into the Southwest Detention Center in Riverside County on suspicion of murder, arson and child endangerment in connection with the death of 25-year-old Laura Perez, an Escondido police officer.
"The Murrieta Police Department has worked closely with the Escondido Police Department from the start of this investigation," said Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad. "Our condolences go out to both Ms. Perez's immediate family, as well as her police family."
Conrad alleged Rodas shot his wife in the chest during a domestic dispute sometime Wednesday in their house at Grand Oaks Court. She died at the scene, after which the suspect allegedly transported her body to a Moreno Valley storage locker. Rojas then allegedly returned to the house and set fire to it, unsuccessfully attempting to burn it to the ground, according to police.
According to Murrieta police, during questioning, Rodas "admitted to killing his wife and burning the location in an attempt to cover up the crime." Police also said Rodas "admitted to this crime during questioning and led detectives to his wife's body. The murder weapon in this case has been recovered."
The couple's four-year-old child was not injured in the incident and is with Perez's extended family, according to police.
Escondido Police Department Chief Craig Carter issued this statement:
"The men and women of the Escondido Police family and all City of Escondido employees are shocked by the tragic loss of one of our own. We ask for time to grieve and take care of Laura's family."
Perez joined the police department in October 2013.
Neighbor Stacey Kirsh told 10News the home was always very quiet. Kirsh says she saw Rodas for the first time Wednesday.
“Yesterday was the first time I actually made eye contact with him, it’s disturbing,” Kirsh said.
“He had one of his trucks up on the lawn, and then he had the blue truck up on the front lawn and he was juggling things, and this was going on.”
Kirsh says she was alarmed later by the house fire, but more so by Rodas’ reaction. She says he watching the flames outside with the couple’s 4-year old daughter.
“The father was just standing there, just standing there like very calm. And I thought that was kind of odd.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: Escondido Police Chief Carter said in a press conference that scams were already underway by people claiming to represent Perez's family raising money to assist her family. The Police Officer's Association has a legitimate drive going. Donations can be made at the Escondido Police Department or at Wells Fargo Bank in Escondido.