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Marine wife's death stuns neighbors

FALLBROOK, Calif. — Authorities have determined that a body found near a Southern California lake is that of Brittany Dawn Killgore, a Marine's wife whose disappearance has led to the arrest of another woman on suspicion of murder.

Neighbors were stunned Wednesday when coroner investigators announced that it was the body of the 22-year-old Killgore that had been found in the brushy area.

"It's very bizarre. I wish I knew the end to the story. Where are the leads?" said Navy Petty Officer Ashley McMurray, who has lived at the complex of yellow stucco homes on Ammunition Road for 11 months.

Authorities have said little about their investigation. Another Marine, Louis Ray Perez, was identified as a "person of interest" by a prosecutor Wednesday after he pleaded not guilty to stealing an assault weapon. Authorities say he stole the weapon in early February.

Jessica Lynn Lopez, who lives at a home one mile from the Killgores, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murder. She was scheduled to be arraigned today.

Authorities have not said if the three know each other or whether the stolen weapon was related to Killgore's death.

Killgore went missing after filing for divorce last week from her husband, a 22-year-old Marine deployed to Afghanistan. Her body was found near Lake Skinner in Riverside County about 25 miles northeast of her modest apartment complex in Fallbrook, a town of 38,000 people about 60 miles north of downtown San Diego that is known for its avocado orchards, rolling hills and proximity to Camp Pendleton.

Killgore lived about five minutes' walk from an entrance to Camp Pendleton, and her complex — like others around it — is full of Marines and their families who tend to be short-term residents and often don't get to know each other. Residents are accustomed to the buzz of helicopters and bomb blasts at the neighboring base.

Killgore's husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, was flying back to California after learning his wife was missing. Sheriff's authorities say he is not a suspect.

Patricia Pagdilao said the Killgores were already living in the upstairs apartment when she moved in a year ago with her Marine husband. Cory Killgore visited with her husband to talk over beers and seemed happy with his wife.

After her husband went to Afghanistan about seven months ago, Brittany Killgore went out often with friends.

"The only time I ever saw her was with friends, either on the way out or on the way home," said Pagdilao, 20.

The couple from Missouri were married in July 2010. Brittany Killgore cited "irreconcilable differences" in her divorce filing, which gave no other details.

Her cellphone was found in the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego.

Darryl J. Wrest of Rolla, Mo., confirmed Brittany Killgore is his daughter but declined to comment futher. Killgore's other family members also declined to comment.

Perez was being held on $500,000 bond. His attorney Jeffrey Reichert said his client was has been in the military for 16 years, has no criminal history, is married and has lived in the San Diego area for 10 years.

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