Woman to face murder charge in Marine wife’s death

Apr 19, 2012, 5:24 PM

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) – A woman arrested in the mysterious slaying of a Camp Pendleton Marine’s wife will be charged with first-degree murder.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis released no details of evidence or motive during Thursday’s announcement that Jessica Lynn Lopez will be charged in the death of 22-year-old Brittany Dawn Killgore.

Killgore disappeared last week, triggering a search that led to discovery of her body in neighboring Riverside County.

During the investigation another Camp Pendleton Marine, Louis Ray Perez, was arrested on a weapons charge. Dumanis says he remains a person of interest in the Killgore case.

Killgore’s husband is en route home from Afghanistan.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Authorities have determined that a body found near a Southern California lake is that of Brittany Dawn Killgore, a Marine’s wife whose disappearance has led to the arrest of another woman on suspicion of murder.

Killgore went missing after filing for divorce last week from her husband, a 22-year-old Marine deployed to Afghanistan. Her body was found near Lake Skinner in Riverside County about 25 miles northeast of her modest apartment complex in Fallbrook, a town of 38,000 people about 60 miles north of downtown San Diego that is known for its avocado orchards, rolling hills and proximity to Camp Pendleton.

Neighbors were stunned Wednesday when coroner investigators announced that it was the body of the 22-year-old Killgore that had been found in the brushy area.

“It’s very bizarre. I wish I knew the end to the story. Where are the leads?” said Navy Petty Officer Ashley McMurray, who has lived at the complex of yellow stucco homes on Ammunition Road for 11 months.

Authorities have said little about their investigation. Another Marine, Louis Ray Perez, was identified as a “person of interest” by a prosecutor Wednesday after he pleaded not guilty to stealing an assault weapon. Authorities say he stole the weapon in early February.

Jessica Lynn Lopez, who lives at a home one mile from the Killgores, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder. She was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.

Authorities have not said if the three know each other or whether the stolen weapon was related to Killgore’s death.

Killgore’s husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, was flying back to California after learning his wife was missing. Sheriff’s authorities say he is not a suspect.

The Killgores lived about five minutes’ walk from an entrance to Camp Pendleton, and the complex _ like others around it _ is full of Marines and their families who tend to be short-term residents and often don’t get to know each other. Residents are accustomed to the buzz of helicopters and bomb blasts at the neighboring base.

Patricia Pagdilao said the Killgores were already living in the upstairs apartment when she moved in with her Marine husband a year ago. Cory Killgore visited with her husband to talk over beers and seemed happy with his marriage.

After Cory Killgore went to Afghanistan about seven months ago, Brittany Killgore went out often with friends.

“The only time I ever saw her was with friends, either on the way out or on the way home,” said Pagdilao, 20.

The couple from Missouri were married in July 2010. Brittany Killgore cited “irreconcilable differences” in her divorce filing, which gave no other details.

Her cellphone was found in the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego.

Darryl J. Wrest of Rolla, Mo., confirmed Brittany Killgore is his daughter but declined to comment futher. Killgore’s other family members also declined to comment.

Perez was being held on $500,000 bond. His attorney Jeffrey Reichert said his client was has been in the military for 16 years, has no criminal history, is married and has lived in the San Diego area for 10 years.

___

Watson reported from San Diego.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Woman to face murder charge in Marine wife’s death