SAN DIEGO (AP) — Three murder suspects who shared a home equipped with a "sex dungeon" and bondage devices may have targeted a Marine's wife to satisfy their fetishes, investigators say in newly unsealed search warrants.
Detectives said they found "bondage type sex apparatuses, toys and tools" in the home of the man and two women who have been charged with murdering 22-year-old Brittany Killgore.
She was last seen April 13 in a borrowed purple evening gown, three days after she filed for divorce from Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, who was serving in Afghanistan at the time.
Investigators believe all three suspects were with Killgore at their home in Fallbrook, north of San Diego, shortly after the victim sent a desperate text message to a friend that simply said, "Help."
The documents say her body was later found near a lake with neck injuries consistent with strangulation and marks on her wrist and leg that suggested someone tried to use a saw or other tool to dismember her.
A San Diego County sheriff's detective said in one affidavit that the trio may have targeted Killgore for their "unusual sexual fetishes." Louis Ray Perez and Dorothy Maraglino told authorities they were involved in "master, servant and slave role playing."
The third suspect, Jessica Lopez, said she strangled the victim, fearing Killgore would upend a kinky sex ring by seducing her "Master," according to the warrants. Lopez wrote in a seven-page letter that she believed Killgore was trying to come between her, Perez and Maraglino.
All three defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Authorities said Lopez shouldered full blame for the killing, saying she acted after the victim told her that she had an entire night planned with Perez, comments suggesting jealousy was a motive.
Lopez, 25, said she had been burned before in a relationship and knew what she had to do when Killgore entered their Fallbrook home. Lopez said she shot the victim with a stun gun, wrapped a rope around her neck, buried her face in a pillow and strangled her.
"She barely moved but she just wouldn't die, the miserable whore," the letter said.
Lopez said she made "a few attempts to chop her up" with Perez's power tools and doused Killgore's body in bleach to get rid of evidence before dumping the nude body near Lake Skinner, near Riverside.
The documents give no indication that Killgore knew about the sex ring, and prosecutors call her an innocent victim. Detectives said she accepted Perez's invitation to a San Diego dinner cruise after he helped her move that afternoon. The warrants do not say how Killgore met the suspects.
The warrants were unsealed Wednesday at the request of news organizations including The Associated Press.
Sloan Ostbye, Lopez's attorney, didn't immediately respond to a phone message. She joined the San Diego County district attorney's office in an appeal to keep the documents sealed, calling much of her client's letter "false or at least misleading and possibly delusional."
Detectives found the letter in a San Diego hotel where Lopez was discovered with self-inflicted cuts four days after Killgore disappeared.
The handwritten letter — below a mirror that was scrawled with the word "PIGS READ THIS" — accused police of "complete incompetence." It was laced with profanity.
In the letter, Lopez told police Perez wasn't responsible for the killing. It also reveals where the body was dumped, telling police they would likely find handcuff marks on the victim's wrists. It says the handcuffs and a knife were disposed of at a beach restroom in Oceanside.
Three days after Killgore vanished, detectives searched Perez's mud-caked Ford Explorer and found a plastic bag with a stun gun, latex gloves and Killgore's blood. Perez's DNA was found on the stun gun, authorities said.
The documents describe an elaborate ruse for Perez to conceal his whereabouts on the night Killgore vanished.
The Marine told detectives he picked up Killgore for the dinner cruise but instead dropped her off at a downtown San Diego nightclub. He said he couldn't find her at the club after parking then returned home.
The cellphones of Killgore and Perez remained in Fallbrook that night, contradicting his statement that he was in San Diego, according to authorities.
Killgore sent the text message to a friend that said "Help," at 7:50 p.m., about 13 minutes after Perez picked her up. The friend asked if she was OK and insisted she call.
About two hours later, the friend got a response, "Yes I love this party," which fueled suspicions because Killgore always texted 'yeah' instead of 'yes' and had said nothing about going to a party.
A transient found Killgore's phone at his feet when he woke up in the doorway of a downtown San Diego hotel that night. A San Diego County sheriff's detective said he believed Perez drove downtown to get rid of the phone.
All three defendants were being held on $3 million bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Aug. 21.