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Mystery deepens after body of Marine's wife is found near lake

April 19, 2012 |  7:28 am


The mystery surrounding the death of a Camp Pendleton Marine's wife deepened after officials identified her body, found Tuesday in a remote area near Lake Skinner in Riverside County.

Brittany Dawn Killgore, 22, had disappeared Friday.

Meanwhile, at least two people are under suspicion in her death, though the motive is unclear, authorities said.

Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Ray Perez, 45, considered a "person of interest" in the case, pleaded not guilty Wednesday 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 after San Diego County sheriff's deputies spotted an assault rifle that had been reported stolen. He was uncooperative when asked about Killgore, officials said.

Arraignment for Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, on a charge of killing Killgore is set for Thursday. She was arrested Tuesday at a San Diego motel; she had attempted to kill herself and left a suicide note, authorities said.

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

Killgore's husband, Cory, is a Marine lance corporal deployed to Afghanistan. He is returning to San Diego on emergency leave arranged by the Red Cross. His wife filed for divorce last week.

Perez is thought to be the last person seen with Killgore, according to the San Diego County 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.


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--Tony Perry in San Diego