Boyfriend Accused of Murdering Calif. Mom Found Dead by Husband, Daughters Returning from Vacation

Jaime Balsells, 27, was arrested Saturday in connection with the death of Virginia "Gina" Cantero

Gina Cantero
Virginia Cantero. Photo: Facebook

An arrest has been made in connection with the killing of a California mother whose husband and daughters found her dead after they returned from a vacation to Mexico.

Jaime Balsells, 27, was arrested on a murder charge Saturday. He is accused of killing 36-year-old Virginia "Gina" Cantero.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner, Cantero died from a stab wound to the neck. Strangulation with ligature was also a contributing factor.

Police were called to her Sylmar home on Sept. 7 after her husband and her three teenage children, who had been away for a holiday weekend in Mexico, found her dead inside.

"Her family had been out of town, they returned home Tuesday night and they discovered her," LAPD detective Christine Moselle previously told PEOPLE. "She had been deceased for an unknown amount of time but definitely several days."

Her brother, Sean Soto, told NBC4 that he believed Cantero was probably killed shortly after her family left on Friday.

"I called her the last few days … no response," he said.

Cantero's car was missing but it was recovered in LAPD's northeast division, miles away from her home.

Police say Balsells was Cantero's boyfriend, whom she had been dating for several months. At the time of her death, she was separated from her husband, CBS2 reported.

"He may have been staying with them off and on," says Moselle. "There is still a lot of information in this case we are not going to discuss."

Balsells was detained after a fight in Santa Monica on September 10 at about 11:20 p.m., according to Santa Monica Police Department spokesman Lt. Rudy Flores.

"The officer was driving up into a parking lot and came across a fight," he tells PEOPLE. "At some point they detained some individuals and one of those individuals was Jaime Balsells."

"I had put out a want for him that we were looking for him in connection with this investigation and Santa Monica Police Department took him into custody based on that," says Moselle. "I arrested him after my interview with him."

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Balsells is being held on $2 million bail.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday. It was not immediately clear if he had retained a lawyer to comment on his behalf.

Soto described Cantero as a dedicated mother who "loved her kids, would give her shirt off her back for anybody," NBC4 reported.

Longtime friend Estashia McGinnis told NBC4 that Cantero helped her when she was going through a rough patch.

"She fed me, she clothed me," said McGinnis. "Never charged me nothing. When she cooked, she made sure I had a plate, too."

Anyone with information about Cantero's death is asked to contact the Los Angeles Police Department, Valley Bureau Homicide, at 818-374-9550. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

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