A woman's body found in Riverside County was positively identified Wednesday as that of a 22-year-old North County military wife who disappeared last week.
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The remains of Brittany Killgore of Fallbrook were discovered Tuesday afternoon near Temecula, about a mile north of Lake Skinner, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.
Killgore was reported missing Saturday. The young woman -- whose husband was deployed overseas -- vanished Friday after meeting up with 45-year-old Louis Ray Perez, a Camp Pendleton-based Marine who was subsequently arrested on weapon-theft charges, according to investigators.
Perez appeared in court in Vista Wednesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of stolen property and illegal possession of an assault rifle. The serviceman also was being "actively investigated" in connection with the Killgore case, sheriff's Capt. Duncan Fraser told reporters.
Investigators had gone to the remote spot where the woman's body was found based on leads stemming from the arrest of a second suspect in the case, according to Fraser.
Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, was arrested late Tuesday morning at a Point Loma motel on suspicion of murder, according to Fraser, who declined to disclose her alleged role in the slaying.
After being treated at a hospital for self-inflicted cuts she had suffered in an apparent suicide attempt, Lopez was booked into Las Colinas women's jail in Santee late Tuesday night.
Lopez, who was being held without bail, was slated to make her first court appearance in the case Thursday.
A neighbor spoke with 10News on about the possible link between Killgore and Lopez. The neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said Lopez was trying to leave town with a friend.
"They came to give me a hug and [say] goodbye when they were leaving," the neighbor said. "They were staying at a hotel before they would fly out."
10News learned investigators are looking into whether the women were possibly involved in some unusual behavior. The neighbor said it was no secret that the two women were involved in a dangerous sex industry.
"They were into the
sex slave things," said the neighbor. "I tried not to judge
but that's what they were into."
At Perez's arraignment Wednesday, his attorney, Jeff Reichert, asked that his client's bail be lowered from $500,000 to $30,000, noting that the Marine had not been charged in connection with Killgore's apparent slaying.
Reichert also said Perez had no criminal history and was a 16-year military veteran.
But Superior Court Judge Sim von Kalinowski rejected the request, saying Perez's knowledge that he is a person of interest in the Killgore investigation made him an increased flight risk. The judge ordered that Perez remain jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail.
Outside court, prosecutor Patrick Espinoza was asked why Perez hasn't been charged with murder.
"Well, before an important decision like charging someone with the crime of murder is made, police conduct and deputies conduct a thorough investigation," Espinoza said. "That thorough investigation is happening right now. It hasn't been completed yet."
Pressed for more details, Espinoza added, "I know there's been a lot of focus on the homicide investigation. We want to protect the integrity of that investigation and we're not in a position to answer any those questions and I know you have many questions."
Perez is due back in court for a readiness conference April 26 and a preliminary hearing on May 17. He faces up to three years and eight months behind bars if convicted.
Killgore filed for divorce last week, according to court records. Marine Corps officials agreed to send her husband, Cory, home from a deployment to Afghanistan following his wife's disappearance. It was unclear when he was likely to arrive back in San Diego County.
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