A man is accused of murder in the deaths of two women whose bodies were discovered by Escondido police at two separate crime scenes, just three miles apart.
Juan Carlos Ortega, 33, faces criminal charges in the death of a woman whose body was found in an Escondido home and the death of a woman who was found in a burned car about three miles away, the Escondido Police Department (EPD) said. Investigators have not said if the victims knew each other or were related in any way.
Both women were discovered about an hour apart and police believed there was a connection, prompting a homicide investigation into the incident that lasted more than 12 hours.
At about 4:15 a.m. Thursday, a woman was found dead inside a burned SUV near the intersection of Kuana Loa and Country Club drives, just south of Palomar Medical Center and west of Stone Brewing, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO) said.
Aerial footage of the scene showed a white, four-door SUV with burn marks through the roof of the vehicle.
Escondido police went to the home of the SUV's registered owner in the 500 block of W. 11th Street, about a mile south of the Escondido Center for the Arts.
When officers arrived, a woman was found dead inside the home where two children were asleep, police said. The children were not harmed and were taken into protective custody.
The location of the burned car was approximately 3 miles west of the home on W. 11th Street.
Both women were not identified pending family notification.
Ortega was located at about 8:30 p.m. and booked into Vista Detention Facility on two counts of murder and one count of arson.
It was not clear what connection Ortega had to the two women. Although EPD said the incidents were connected, officers said they were still working to determine motives and the events leading up to both deaths.
Concerned neighbors had called police at about 3:30 a.m. to report people fighting at the home on W. 11th Street.
The slayings left neighbors feeling anxious as EPD searched for a suspect.
"I'm feeling kind of nervous," neighbor Josefina Portillo said. "Because it could happen at any other house."
Another neighbor told NBC 7 she was scared to leave her teenage son at home alone because she fears a killer could be out there.
Country Club Drive between Eden Valley Lane and Mt. Whitney Road and Kuana Loa Drive between Country Club Drive and Oak View Way were closed to traffic during the investigation, SDSO said.
Both locations are just south of State Route 78. The home is located east of Interstate 15 while the burned-out vehicle was found west of I-15.
No other information was available.
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