VISTA, Calif. (AP) — Brittany Killgore was hoping to unwind for three days after filing for divorce from her Marine husband serving in Afghanistan.
Prosecutors believe things quickly went wrong when she met another Marine for a night out.
"She sent a text saying, 'Help,'" Patrick Espinoza, a deputy district attorney in San Diego County, said Thursday. "She was missing from that point on."
Authorities said Killgore's body was found in brush near Lake Skinner on April 17, hours after paramedics were called to a San Diego motel and found another woman with self-inflicted cuts and a suicide note.
Killgore's message to an unidentified friend was disclosed at an arraignment for Louis Ray Perez, 45, who pleaded not guilty to murder.
The brief hearing offered the most details yet of what authorities believe happened to the 22-year-old Killgore after she disappeared on April 13.
Espinoza said investigators found Killgore's blood and a weapon in Perez's car. He also said Perez told investigators he dropped off Killgore in downtown San Diego's bustling Gaslamp District, but investigators concluded that he lied about his whereabouts and stayed about 60 miles north in Fallbrook, where Killgore lived.
Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, the woman authorities said was found by paramedics at the motel, also has pleaded not guilty to murder.
The prosecutor said Lopez and Perez once lived together but didn't indicate when or where. Lopez currently lives a mile from Killgore's second-floor apartment overlooking Camp Pendleton.
Espinoza didn't disclose a possible motive or other details about the death during the hearing, and he later declined to elaborate on the investigation.
It's still unclear how Killgore died and whether the unspecified weapon authorities said they found in Perez's car was used in the killing.
Perez's attorney, Jeff Reichert, said Lopez's suicide note shows "very, very clearly" that she killed Killgore and that his client was not involved.