Police: Man who drove dead woman to San Diego police headquarters booked on suspicion of murder

SAN DIEGO - A Bay Terraces man whose estranged wife's body was found in his truck outside downtown San Diego police headquarters early Tuesday was arrested on suspicion of killing her.

Americus Jules De Orenday, 44, flagged down officers in front of the station at 1401 Broadway shortly after 1:30 a.m., Lt. Jorge Duran said.

De Orenday led them to a nearby parked 2004 Ford F150 truck, in which they found his 40-year-old wife, Mirella, dead in a backseat area, near a small amount of what appeared to be blood. A hose was extending out of the exhaust pipe of the vehicle into a back window of the cab.

An autopsy determined that the woman had been strangled, according to the county Medical Examiner's Office.

The suspect seemed calm while reporting his wife's death, Duran said. The lieutenant declined to disclose what explanation the man provided for her demise, if any.

Homicide detectives questioned De Orenday for about four hours before arresting him. He was booked into San Diego Central Jail in the early afternoon on suspicion of murder and was being held without bail pending arraignment, tentatively scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The block of 14th Street, north of E Street, where the suspect parked the yellow pickup was closed to through traffic into the late morning to allow investigators to gather evidence.

Police haven't ruled out the possibility that this was a failed murder suicide attempt.

The suspect and his wife were separated and involved in a dispute over custody of their three children, neighbors told reporters.

A woman who lives near De Orenday's Alta View Drive apartment said she was convinced the suspect's wife would never have taken her own life.

"She just didn't have it in her to do something like that to herself," Maria Felley told 10News. "She was a Christian, (a) church lady."

Felley told the station the suspect sometimes would "get crazy" with his wife out of jealousy over other men.

Afriend of the family -- who asked to remain anonymous -- told 10News that "Americus did not want to divorce and began to accuse her of having an affair with a young man."

"Americus … wanted to force a relationship. He was even quoted saying, 'I'm going to have her either the good way or the bad way,'" said the friend.

"Mirella was a woman of faith, love by many. She offered support and assistance to those around her in times of need … She was not scared of Americus, she was scared of losing what she loved the most -- her children," the friend told 10News.

"Mirella tried to stay away, but for her children she would still visit … On Saturday, Americus showed up … and took Mirella with him forcefully," the friend said.

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