Husband Charged With Escondido Officer's Murder

Freddy Perez-Rodas denies the charges against him

A Murrieta man has been charged with murder in the death of his wife, an Escondido Police officer whose body was discovered in a Moreno Valley storage locker alongside a large amount of cash.

Freddy Perez-Rodas, 27, pleaded not guilty in Murrieta court Friday after he was arraigned on charges of murder, personal use of a firearm and arson.

He is accused of killing his 25-year-old wife Laura Perez, hiding her body in a storage locker and burning their home to cover up the crime. 

At his arraignment, prosecutors revealed another piece of evidence found in the same locker: at least $85,000 in cash. 

Prosecutors say Perez-Rodas may have used the money to avoid arrest and should be considered a flight risk. 

Since the suspect has family in Guatemala, the judge agreed, ordering he be held on a $2 million bond.

Family members supporting Perez-Rodas in court would not comment in detail, but one woman told NBC he is "a very good person. We don't know what happened." 

Neighbor Stacey Kirsh said on the day of the killing, Perez-Rodas positioned his truck in a strange way in front of his house, as if he was trying to secretly load something into it.

"It was his work truck," said Kirsh. "He was a landscaper, and he had it parked on the lawn, facing diagonally."

The case began on Wednesday when firefighters extinguished a blaze at the couple’s home as Perez-Rodas told them his wife was inside. However, fire crews found no victims in the house.

Investigators immediately determined the fire was arson and took Perez-Rodas into custody. According to prosecutors, the suspect started more than one fire to make his family home burn. 

During questioning, police say the suspect told them his wife had been shot in the chest three times.

With information gleaned from Perez-Rodas, investigators discovered his wife’s body and cash at All-Size Storage in Moreno Valley early Thursday morning.

Perez-Rodas is scheduled to be in court on Aug. 15. He faces 50 to 100 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Court records show the suspect does not have a history of felony domestic violence cases on file, but he does have a long history of traffic citations. 

Laura Perez was a member of the Escondido Police Department who had joined the force just last October. 

The couple's 4-year-old daughter is now in the care of extended family members. 

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