The naked bodies of two women--one raped and strangled and the other dead of unknown causes--were found about 2 miles apart in Santa Ana early Saturday, but police discounted any connection.
The body of Marcia Carmen Guardado, 33, of Santa Ana was found in Jerome Park at 700 S. Center St., and the body of Lurdes Brenda Anaya, 24, also of Santa Ana, was discovered in an industrial area in the 1900 block of South Yale Street, near the Santa Ana River, police said.
Police investigators later Saturday made an arrest in Guardado’s death, but were still trying to find out what happened to Anaya. Carlos Mauricio Arce, 24, who roomed with Guardado, her husband and their two young children, was arrested and held in the Orange County Jail on suspicion of murder and rape. Bond was set at $250,000.
Police Sgt. Rich Murg said investigation determined that Guardado had been strangled and sexually assaulted in the park at about 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
A passer-by discovered the body in a grass field behind a park gymnasium at about 6:40 a.m. and called police, Murg said. Several children were strolling by at the time on their way to catechism class at nearby Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, local residents said.
Residents near the park said police roped off two streets for much of the morning and kept spectators back. The residents added that this is the first time they can remember a body being found dead in the normally peaceful park.
Evidence at the scene and inconsistent statements made by Arce led to his arrest, Murg said.
Anaya’s body was also discovered by a passer-by, who called police at 7:29 a.m. Police and paramedics found the body on the ground.
Police were able to determine only that Anaya died sometime in the early morning hours Saturday. The coroner’s office is conducting an autopsy to determine cause of death.
Little background information could be immediately learned about Anaya, other than that a neighbor said she was a mother of several young children.
Guardado was a political refugee from El Salvador who lived with her husband, Roberto, and their two children, a boy, 6, and a girl, 2, in a three-bedroom house they managed to buy 2 years ago after much hard work, the victim’s husband said late Saturday.
Guardado said he and his wife fled El Salvador 7 years ago and settled in this area. He said his wife had been working in an electronics assembly plant.
“She has been very busy working and taking care of the children,” Guardado said, answering questions in Spanish.
Guardado said the suspect, Arce, had been a friend of his for about a year, and he added that he did not know the circumstances that led up to his wife’s death. He said his wife’s family would be helping him care for the children now that she is gone.