Deputies Were Asked to Lock Up Man Prior to Mom's Death

A 25-year-old man who allegedly fled to Arizona after his mother’s slaying in Valley Center last week is now facing extradition for murder, a sheriff’s homicide lieutenant told the North County Times Tuesday.

David Leroy Lucero was arrested last week after being identified by San Diego County Sheriff’s investigators as a “subject wanted for questioning” in the murder of his mother, 53-year-old Margo Jean Lucero. He was booked into Pima County Jail in Tucson March 10.

According to the North County Times, newly released information indicates Lucero was exhibiting disturbing behavior at the home  in the 2900 block of Costalota Road in Valley Center on March 8, the day before his mother was found dead. Lucero’s brother then called the sheriff’s department seeking help, deputies said.

Lt. Dennis Brugos told the North County Times that a deputy responded to the Valley Center home, but declined to take Lucero into custody for mental observation.

While Brugos said he did not know the details of the March 8 call, he noted that a person had to demonstrate an immediate danger to himself or others before he can be held involuntarily for a 72-hour mental health observation. Brugos told the paper that responding deputy did not find that Lucero met that standard.

Brugos said the San Diego Superior Court issued a murder warrant for Lucero on Monday and that Lucero may agree to be transported to California for prosecution or may fight extradition. Brugos said he anticipated Lucero would be extradited within the next 10 days.

The body of 53-year-old Margo Jean Lucero, the mother of four adult children, was discovered by her husband, Dr. David Manuel Lucero, and their daughter on March 8.   

According to sheriff's detectives in Pima County, Ariz., Margo's Mercedes was discovered in the desert off Interstate 15 late on Tuesday afternoon. Officials said David was arrested by Tohono O'odham Tribal Police in connection with a trespassing incident on tribal property on Tuesday night. 

Tribal officials said David gave his name as John Doe, so he remained in their custody until San Diego County Sheriff's detectives issued a special bulletin regarding him on Wednesday morning.

Neighbors said strange things have been happening recently at the Lucero home. Early on March 1, residents said they heard one of the couple's sons chanting loudly down the road from the home. Later, when they went outside to investigate, they found what they described as a Native American shrine resting along the roadway. Another neighbor said he saw Margo drive up and take the shrine away in her car.

Neighbors said the family belongs to a Native American tribe that's based in Temecula.

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