Arrest made in case of mother found dead under bridge

January 23, 2013 8:28:12 PM PST
Pasadena police say they believe they've solved a murder mystery just more than a year old, making an arrest in the case that left a mother dead under a bridge.

The body of murder victim Edlyn Villegas Munoz, 36, was discovered beneath a bridge over a drainage canal in the 100 block of Queens Road on New Years Day 2012. The case was under investigation without resolution for several months.

A Crime Stoppers tip call just this month led detectives to discover that on the night of the crime, the suspect had asked an acquaintance for help moving the body. The acquaintance declined and refused any involvement, but later told someone about it, ultimately resulting in the tip call.

Detectives say they found the suspect to be Francisco J. Machado Lopez, 27, a former apartment resident of a project in the 2700 block of Perez Road in Pasadena. The apartment was along the route that Munoz had been walking home from a nightclub on Spencer Highway the night she was accosted.

Police say some relatives of Munoz lived at the same complex, and that Lopez was acquainted with those family members and reportedly seen Munoz there before.

Authorities arrested Lopez in New Jersey, where he has been living with relatives, and are returning him to Pasadena.

"He was aware that we have the death penalty in the state of Texas and they do not in the state of New Jersey," said Pasadena Police Assistant Chief Bud Corbett. "He chose on that basis, at least in part, to go to New Jersey because he had family there."

Lopez is charged with murder in the case. Police say he is also charged with sexual assault of a child, in an unrelated case involving a teenage girl.