A man and two women who were involved in what prosecutors described as a sadomasochistic sex cult were convicted of the first-degree murder of a 22-year-old wife of a Marine by a California jury on Wednesday.
The San Diego County court confirmed to PEOPLE that all three defendants – Louis Ray Perez, 49, Dorothy Grace Marie Maraglino, 40, and Jessica Lynn Lopez, 28 – were found guilty of the 2012 murder of Brittany Killgore, whose naked and mutilated body was found near a lake in Riverside County, California. Additionally, all three defendants were convicted of the kidnapping and torture of Killgore.
San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza said that Killgore, who was not a part of the alleged cult – whose members allegedly enjoyed bongage, cutting and whipping – was killed for the members’ “sadistic pleasure,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Perez, Maraglino and Lopez lived in a rental home where police found a “sex dungeon” with sex toys, a nightstick, ropes, whips, a Taser and spiked gloves, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Investigators said that on the night of her murder, Killgore – who had filed for divorce just days before she disappeared – decided to go on a dinner cruise with Perez after Perez agreed to help her move out of her apartment. Perez was in a relationship with Maraglino at the time, the paper reports.
However, soon after leaving for the cruise with Perez, Killgore texted the word “help” to a friend. Her friend texted Killgore back, but received no reply.
Prosecutors said Perez used a stun gun on Killgore, and then texted Lopez and Maraglino to join him at their home. There, he and the two women tortured and strangled Killgore before dumping her body.
Investigators caught a break in the case on April 17, 2012 after paramedics treated Lopez in a San Diego hotel room for self-inflicted cuts. Inside the room, police found a suicide note in which Lopez implicated herself in Killgore’s murder and gave the location of her remains.
Lopez’s attorney, Sloan Ostbye, told jurors her client was the victim of a “slave contract” she entered into with Maraglino, and that Lopez was being forced to take the blame for a murder she did not commit, CBS reports.
“Her role was not unsimilar to that of a dog,” Ostbye said.
Lopez also sported a tattoo on her body that read: “Ms. D s Pet,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Maraglino allegedly answered to Perez, a former Marine staff sergeant stationed at Camp Pendleton.
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