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Family of Marine's slain wife is 'devastated'

April 19, 2012 |  5:43 pm

San Diego Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis
The father of a slain Marine wife said Thursday that the family is "devastated and asks to be left alone to grieve at this time."

Darryl Wrest said his daughter, Brittany Dawn Killgore, was "a beautiful, kind, caring young woman trying to find her way in this world. Family and friends love and miss Brittany beyond words."

Wrest read a short statement at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department headquarters while flanked by detectives working to solve the death of his 22-year-old daughter.

Meanwhile, Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the case. Her bail was set at $3 million dollars.

Lopez was arrested Tuesday at a San Diego motel; she had attempted to kill herself and left a suicide note, authorities said.

"This case has shaken many in San Diego County and many in the military community at Camp Pendleton," Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis said.

On Wednesday, the San Diego County medical examiner confirmed that a body found Tuesday near Lake Skinner in Riverside County is that of Killgore but did not reveal the cause of death.

Also on Wednesday, Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Ray Perez, 45, still considered a "person of interest" in the case, pleaded not guilty in the Vista branch of San Diego County Superior Court to charges of receiving stolen property and possession of a stolen assault rifle. Bail was set at $500,000.

Perez was arrested Sunday while being interviewed about the disappearance of Killgore when San Diego County sheriff's deputies spotted an assault rifle that had been reported stolen. He was uncooperative when asked about Killgore, officials said.

Dumanis declined to reveal any details about the case. She said it is possible that additional charges could be filed against Perez or Lopez.

Detectives have not revealed the relationships, if any, among Lopez, Perez and Killgore. But Killgore's relatives told a newspaper in Farmington, Mo., that she had been set to take a dinner cruise on San Diego Bay with Perez and others Friday night.

Killgore's husband, Marine Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, is returning to San Diego on emergency leave from Afghanistan arranged by the Red Cross after his wife's disappearance. Brittany Killgore had filed for divorce last week.

Perez is thought to be the last person seen with Killgore, according to the Sheriff's Department. For two days, search and rescue team members scoured a canyon north of Fallbrook where Killgore lived.

Perez and Cory Killgore were stationed at Camp Pendleton.

"Answers will come in time as this case makes its way through the criminal justice system," Dumanis said.

Reading from his statement, Wrest said, "Be assured, we will fight for Brittany to ensure justice is served for her."


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis at a news conference Thursday. Credit: Gregory Bull / Associated Press