A military wife from Fallbrook who was found dead near Lake Skinner in southwest Riverside County—authorities said she was killed after she was kidnapped and forced to participate in a bondage and sadomasochistic sex ring—was strangled before her naked body was dumped, a deputy medical examiner testified Thursday.
Dr. Craig Nelson testified in a preliminary hearing for Louis Ray Perez, 46, Dorothy Maraglino, 37, and 25-year-old Jessica Lynn Lopez that the 22-year-old victim, Brittany Killgore, died after being strangled with some sort of ligature.
Killgore, who had filed for divorce from her Marine husband and was preparing to move back to Pennsylvania, also had a deep cut from a saw below her left knee, suggesting attempted dismemberment after she died, Nelson testified.
Nelson couldn't say whether the victim was tortured.
Perez, a Camp Pendleton Marine sergeant, his girlfriend Maraglino and Lopez are charged with murder, conspiracy, kidnapping and torture.
Killgore's body was found near Lake Skinner last April 17, four days after she agreed to go on a dinner cruise with Perez.
A friend testified that Killgore texted the word "help" shortly after leaving with Perez. Perez told the friend in a subsequent phone call that he dropped Killgore at a bar and saw her go off with "two guys," according to the friend's testimony.
Perez allegedly took Killgore to his Fallbrook home -- where authorities said they found ropes, whips, a Taser, a nightstick, spiked gloves and a "sex dungeon" -- before texting Lopez and Maraglino to join him.
At some point, Perez decided to kill Killgore, authorities allege.
All three defendants were involved in sexual behavior that included bondage, torture and master, servant and slave role-playing, and Killgore was an "unwilling participant" in those activities, sheriff's detective Susan Fiske alleged in search warrant affidavits.
The preliminary hearing will resume Friday. When it is over, Judge K. Michael Kirkman will determine whether enough evidence was presented for the defendants to stand trial.
—City News Service