Hayward Police Department/AP
Howard Breuer
September 20, 2011 04:55 PM

Once they were the closest of friends – two former classmates at Mount Carmel High School in San Diego who later lived near each other in the San Francisco area.

But that friendship was shattered when Giselle Esteban allegedly felt that Michelle Le had become too friendly with her ex-boyfriend, Scott Marasigan.

Marasigan, who has a 5-year-old daughter with Esteban, worried she had a gun and claimed that she stalked his house. He was so concerned that he obtained a restraining order against her.

Then Le disappeared May 27 from the parking garage of the Hayward, Calif., city hospital where she works as a nurse.

On Monday, Esteban, 26, was in court to answer to a charge of murdering Le, also 26, whose body was found over the weekend.

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The case has stunned Le’s friends and family, who had been holding out hope she would be found alive. When police announced that her old friend had been arrested for murder, “Our hearts hit the floor,” says Le’s cousin Krystine Dinh.

Dinh insists there was no love triangle – that Le and Marasigan were only friends – and that Le wasn’t the type to make enemies.

“She was so popular and well loved and she had this light grace about her,” Dinh says.

Hayward police say they’ve got plenty of evidence against Esteban, including Le’s DNA on one of Esteban’s sneakers, security camera footage of Esteban at the hospital parking structure before and after Le disappeared, and cell phone records that show both women’s phones traveling a similar route immediately after the disappearance – a route that ends approximately where the body was found.

And then there are Esteban’s own words. In a phone call to ABC7 on May 31, Esteban said, “I openly hate Michelle,” but she denied killing her. Esteban also says she’s pregnant again with another of Marasigan’s babies. Authorities say they don’t know if that s true, but they confirm that Esteban is seven months pregnant.

Esteban has yet to enter a plea. At her Monday court appearance, her attorney asked for more time to prepare.

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