Hayward police said Wednesday that a man accused of killing a young San Jose mother, who went missing Feb. 14, is behind bars.
The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Esmid Valentine Pedraza,. The resident of unincorporated Hayward has been charged with homicide in connection with the death of Stacey Xanthe Aguilar, according to a news statement.
Police said Aguilar's body was found riddled with gunshot wounds at 12 p.m. Saturday in a rural part of Fremont. They believe the 22-year-old was gunned down in Hayward and her lifeless body was dumped off Morrison Canyon Road.
Aguilar's boyfriend was taken into custody Feb. 16 on a domestic violence charge related to the victim, police said Monday. They would not specify, however, whether he was suspected of killing Aguilar.
As of Wednesday, police had not confirmed whether Pedraza and Aguilar were dating. However, after hearing about Pedraza's arrest, Aguilar's sister confirmed to NBC Bay Area's sister station Telemundo 48 that the pair were in a relationship.
"Aguilar’s murder investigation is still ongoing, so further information about Pedraza’s arrest will not be released until the investigation is formally reviewed by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office," police said in a statement.
Aguilar's official cause of death remains under investigation and the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau is performing an autopsy, according to police.
The victim's mother said Monday that she believed her daughter was in an abusive relationship, and had begged her to return to Mexico.
Speaking by phone, Marisol Aguilar did not name the boyfriend but told Telemundo reporters in Spanish: "I didn't know. I didn't know anything. I didn't know he beat her. No one told me. No one told me anything."
Stacey Aguilar's 7-year-old son lives with his grandmother who was deported to Mexico.
"I want all of this to end," a distraught Marisol Aguilar said. "I want my daughter's ashes to be brought to me."
The victim's mother is now trying to obtain a humanitarian visa to the United States so she can return to Mexico with her child's body.
Aguilar, who worked as a waitress in the San Jose area, was last seen at a party in Hayward around 1 a.m. Feb. 14, police said. Her family reported her missing the next day.
According to a resident of the East Bay house where the party was held, Aguilar was among the attendees. The woman did not want to be identified, and said she did not know the victim personally, but knew her boyfriend who brought her to the party.
The woman also said the pair left together.