A Glen Avon man angry that his live-in girlfriend was becoming more independent by looking for a job and learning English paid a 14-year-old continuation-school student $500 to murder the woman, authorities said Wednesday.
More than two months after Blanca Lilia Vasquez-Nunez, 31, was found bludgeoned and stabbed to death in her side yard, Hugo Leonel Marroquin has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Riverside County Superior Court on Tuesday along with the alleged killer, Brian Aroldo Pineda.
Marroquin, a 42-year-old warehouse worker, also was charged with one count of solicitation of murder and faces special circumstances of lying in wait and committing murder for financial gain that would make him eligible for the death penalty, law enforcement officials said.
"[Vasquez-Nunez] was branching out, and [Marroquin] didn't like that," said Sgt. John Schultz, who investigated the slaying for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's homicide unit.
Family members described Vasquez-Nunez as a loving mother who welcomed neighborhood children into her home, a white single-story ranch-style house on Ben Nevis Boulevard next to the Pomona Freeway. After coming to the U.S. from Mexico around 1996, Vasquez-Nunez had three children with Marroquin and the youngest had just entered elementary school, family members said.
With more free time on her hands, Vasquez-Nunez was looking for work and trying to improve her English, Schultz said.
Sheriff's investigators allege Marroquin argued with Vasquez-Nunez over her ambitions and accused her of having an affair, Schultz said. Sheriff's investigators did not find any evidence that indicated she was involved in an affair, he said.
Marroquin had told detectives he was working in Anaheim when Vasquez-Nunez was killed Sept. 23 and said he had seen a stranger in the area in the days before.
Investigators say they determined that on Sept. 4, Marroquin offered to pay his ex-wife's brother an undisclosed fee to kill Vasquez-Nunez. That man, Gallo Toca, declined, and has become a prosecution witness, prosecutors said.
Pineda, the son of a friend of Marroquin's, agreed to the deal, however, accepting a partial payment of the $500 fee, Schultz said. Pineda was enrolled at a Glen Avon continuation school because of disciplinary problems, a law enforcement source said.
Investigators say Pineda was armed with a wooden baseball bat and a knife when he broke into the home after Vasquez- Nunez had dropped off her children at Mission Bell Elementary School.
A struggle took place in the home, with Vasquez-Nunez fighting her attacker while knocking over lamps and breaking collectibles. Beaten and with multiple stab wounds in the chest and torso, Vasquez-Nunez crawled outside the home, where she collapsed and was found dead by Marroquin's 17-year-old daughter.
Vasquez-Nunez's new Honda Civic had been stolen and was found parked at Mission Bell Elementary hours after the slaying.