VISTA, Calif. - An Oceanside man accused of killing the mother of his two young children and stashing her body under a bed in the garage of their home pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge.
Arturo Salazar, 24, was ordered held on $5 million bail in connection with the death of 21-year-old Edith Garcia, his live-in girlfriend.
Garcia's family cried and held hands in court on Monday as prosecutors detailed the gruesome death.
About noon last Thursday, officers went to the couple's residence in the 300 block of Leeward Court to check on the welfare of Garcia at the request of family members who had been unable to contact her, Oceanside police Sgt. Matt Christensen said.
Salazar answered the door and said he did not know the woman's whereabouts, Christensen said. The officers then searched the premises and found Garcia's body hidden from view in an area being used as a makeshift bedroom, the sergeant said.
The two had been living in a one-car garage that had been converted into a studio in the home. Thirteen others were renting various rooms in the home. One resident told 10News he heard screams the night Garcia disappeared.
Detectives questioned Salazar, who eventually told them he had killed Garcia during an argument on Wednesday, Christensen alleged.
Deputy District Attorney Ryan Saunders said Salazar slit Garcia's throat during an altercation.
"He murdered the mother of his children and hid her body under their bed in the garage," Saunders said. "It's double horrible this happened in front of the children."
Authorities turned over the couple's children to the custody of their grandparents.
On Garcia's Facebook pages are countless happy images of the couple's children. Her last post was on the day before she disappeared. In it, she claims she was in a complicated relationship with another man.
According to Oceanside police, the two had a history of domestic violence. Garcia's parents feared the worst when Salazar told them Garcia took off after an argument.
Salazar faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted of murder with use of a knife, said Deputy District Attorney Ryan Saunders. A readiness conference was set for June 25 and a preliminary hearing for June 27.