County prosecutors on Thursday said the blood of a 22-year-old military wife whose body was dumped near a rural road in Riverside County and a weapon believed to have been used on her were found in the car of a Camp Pendleton Marine charged with killing her.
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Staff Sgt. Louis Ray Perez, a 16-year Marine veteran, pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder during a Thursday morning arraignment and was ordered held on $3 million bail in the death of Brittany Killgore of Fallbrook.
A preliminary hearing for the 45-year-old Perez and a woman also charged in Killgore's murder, Jessica Lynn Lopez, was set for May 30 at the Vista Courthouse. Lopez was arraigned for a second time immediately after Perez.
Lopez was also charged with first-degree murder in the case.
Lopez and Perez each face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Lopez was taken into custody hours before Killgore's body was found near Lake Skinner in Riverside County on April 17. Information gleaned from her arrest led authorities to the remote spot where the body was located, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.
At Lopez's first arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza said she had been tracked down to a Rosecrans Street motel where she was found with self-inflicted wounds. A suicide note was in the room, he said.
Perez's attorney, Jeff Reichert, told the judge that the note found during Lopez's arrest exonerates his client. According to Reichert, the note written by Lopez indicates she killed Killgore and that Perez had nothing to do with the homicide.
But Lagotta, who agreed to keep the note under seal, said Perez represented a "serious danger" to the community and was deserving of high bail.
Espinoza told Vista Superior Court Judge Kimberlee Lagotta that Killgore was supposed to go out in downtown San Diego the night of April 13 with Perez and another woman, but the other woman backed out.
Later that night, Espinoza said Killgore sent a friend a text that said "help" while she was with the Marine. Espinoza also said that Killgore's blood and a weapon believed to be used on her were found in Perez' vehicle.
Perez was arraigned last week on charges he stole a weapon and a motorcycle from a trailer at Camp Pendleton and was described by prosecutors at the time as a "person of interest" in Killgore's death. On Wednesday, however, he was re-arrested and re-booked at the Vista Jail on suspicion of murder.
Authorities have refused to disclose the alleged connections between the victim and the two suspects. Lopez and Perez reportedly once lived in the same Fallbrook apartment, about a half-mile from the rental residence Killgore shared with her husband.
Killgore filed for divorce two weeks ago, according to court records. Marine Corps officials agreed to send her Camp Pendleton-based husband home from Afghanistan following her disappearance. He is not implicated in her slaying.
Other than to say that Killgore was a victim of "homicidal violence," as a prosecutor put it, authorities have yet to say how she was killed.
Espinoza refused to comment on reports that Perez had an interest in sadomasochism and bondage or how that may or may not tie into the case.
10News found Perez posted his profile on two sadomasochism websites. On one, he refers to his girlfriend as his slave, and advertises for a woman or couple to join his household where he is "lord and master dom and daddy."
Perez is specific about his sexual preferences, listing asphyxiaphilia, electro-torture, rape/victim, and kidnapping as activities he's interested in.
"There is a sub-culture that does this, but what we're talking about here is outside of that community," said Clairemont-based sex therapist Karen Gless.
Gless explained that the level of sadomasochism preferred by Perez can elevate to torture and killing for sexual excitement.
She explained that people who get involved in the lifestyle walk the fine line between pleasure and pain.
"When the pain stops it allows you to feel that euphoria, that natural high," said Gless.
Both suspects will be back in court May 10 for a readiness conference and for their May 30 preliminary hearing.
Corey Killgore, Brittany's husband, issued the following statement on Thursday:
"My wife Brittany, was beautiful beyond words and her murder has left me devastated. My duty to her memory is now to ensure her good reputation remains intact, and help law enforcement and prosecutors secure justice for the person, or persons who took her away from me.Brittany's death cannot be in vain -- at this point, I don't know how to use this tragedy for good, but others have found their way and I hope to do the same. Brittany meant too much to do any less.As my father-in-law said, please honor my wife's name and don't succumb to salacious gossip and rumor. Brittany was a beautiful, good person, who did not deserve this.Thank you"
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