It was at the Ramada Inn in San Diego where the paramedics found her last Tuesday. Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, had self-inflicted cuts and a note lay nearby.
The case would have gone down as another sad suicide attempt in an airport hotel with $79-a-night rooms, but for a major twist.
Hours later, the body of a missing San Diego-area woman, who had been the subject of a widely publicized search, was discovered in the brush near Lake Skinner, about 70 miles to the northeast.
Authorities then charged recovering Lopez with murdering 22-year-old Brittany Dawn Killgore.
Investigators so far have not said how the women may have known each other and what possible motive Lopez may have had to kill Killgore. Lopez pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Thursday.
The scant information has only fueled speculation and deepened the mystery.
“I understand there’s a great deal of interest in the crime and many unanswered questions,” San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis told reporters Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “Answers will come in time as this case makes its way through the criminal justice system.”
Killgore disappeared April 13, four days after she filed for divorce from her husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, who has been deployed to Afghanistan for seven months. The couple wed in July 2010 in Missouri.
The only trace left behind was her cell phone, which was found in San Diego’s trendy Gaslamp Quarter of bars and restaurants.
A Person of Interest
Another Marine, identified as 45-year-old Staff Sergeant Louis Ray Perez, was the last person believed to have seen Killgore and is being called a person of interest in the case. Perez was arrested after sheriff’s deputies spotted an assault rifle that had been reported stolen, and is being held on bail.
Authorities say that Perez was not cooperative when asked about Killgore, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The case remains under review for potential additional charges,” a spokesman for San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis tells the newspaper.
Killgore’s husband, meanwhile, received an emergency leave arranged by the Red Cross and is headed back to San Diego.