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They Went to Mexico to Collect Rent. Then They Vanished

Bodies believed to be missing California couple discovered in Tijuana, son-in-law arrested
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2020 8:15 AM CST
Maria Lopez, left, and Jesus Guillen.   (Garden Grove Police Department, via KTLA)

(Newser) – They went to Mexico to carry out their landlord tasks and never came home. Now, bodies found buried in mud at one of their properties are believed to be those of Jesus Guillen, 70, and his 65-year-old wife, Maria Lopez, authorities say. Per KFMB, the couple traveled to Tijuana on Jan. 10 in their pickup truck to pick up about $6,500 in rent from tenants at some houses they own, and when they didn't set foot back in the United States, their daughter reported them missing. On Thursday, Mexican authorities arrested a suspect: the couple's son-in-law, IDed only as 36-year-old Santiago "N."

Per the San Diego Union-Tribune, Santiago told authorities he'd traveled to the border from the Mexican side to greet his in-laws and take them to their properties, then gone with them to the bank to exchange the pesos they'd collected. He says he then brought them back to the port of entry into the US, but authorities say investigators found "several contradictions" in his story. Authorities believe an argument broke out between the couple and Santiago over the rent payments, and that Santiago wanted to try to make the couple's disappearance look like a kidnapping so he could collect ransom. Santiago was deported from the US to Mexico in 2012 after a theft conviction, per the Baja California Attorney General's Office. Mexican authorities say he could face kidnapping and murder charges. (Read more missing persons stories.)

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