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An International manhunt is under way for an estranged husband accused of slaying his pregnant wife, a Customs and Border Protection officer, and her unborn child.
28-year-old Maribel Arteaga – found stabbed in her home – was two months pregnant. The couple's two children, ages 6 and 4, were home at the time of the attack.
“Her husband stopped by to visit the children, or under the pretense of visiting the children,” Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano said.
Witnesses say Jesus Arteaga Garcia, 28, knocked on the victim’s apartment door just before 8:30 p.m. on Santa Alicia Avenue in East Lake. When she opened the door, he stabbed her with a long-bladed knife.
Garcia fled the scene. Arteaga later died at the hospital.
“We have a dangerous killer out on the street – a brutal homicide involving his wife, in front of his children,” Chief Bejarano said. “We believe he might hurt someone else.”
Officer Arteaga had been assigned to the Tecate port of entry since May 18 when she entered on duty with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“We as her law enforcement family are saddened and grieve the loss of Officer Arteaga,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Angelica De Cima said. “Our hearts and thoughts go out to her family.”
A neighbor, who didn’t want to be named, said he had helped Arteaga with her car on Thursday after her battery died.
“I just remember the last thing that she said to me was, ‘thanks a lot you saved my life,” he said. “To think that you don't know what's going to happen with you tomorrow, and what you are going to leave behind -- especially a family. It's sad, it's a sad thing.”
Garcia has a tattoo of a tiger on his right arm. He was last seen driving a 2007 gray Ford Ranger pickup with California plate 8T23674 and is considered armed and dangerous.
The suspect has friends and family in Tijuana and there's a good possibility he has fled south across the border, according to police.
The children are currently under the care of the family.
“That’s probably the best situation is to be with people that they’re familiar with,” Chief Bejarano said.