WASHINGTON (AP) - A suburban Maryland woman found dead inside her home this week had recently expressed concerns about her safety after her estranged husband, an ex-con, had re-entered her life and as their relationship had continued deteriorating, the woman's former boyfriend said Friday.
Ronald McCombs told The Associated Press that Jane McQuain had recently been arguing with her estranged husband - generally about money - and that several times he refused to leave her condominium despite her pleas for him to get out.
McCombs said McQuain told him about two and a half weeks ago that she was concerned about her welfare and about whether the man, Curtis Maurice Lopez, might harm her.
"I said, "Janie, don't talk like that,"' McCombs recalled saying.
McQuain was found dead Wednesday night in the bedroom of her home in Germantown, about 30 miles northwest of Washington, after she was reported missing. The medical examiner's office on Friday ruled that McQuain died of blunt force trauma and stab wounds.
Her husband, the 45-year-old Lopez, was arrested Thursday morning as he tried to leave an EconoLodge in Charlotte, N.C. and charged with first-degree murder.
Police found McQuain's car in North Carolina, but were still searching for her 11-year-old son, William - Lopez's stepson - who was last seen at home about two weeks ago. Police would not reveal details about their search, including particular areas being scoured, except to say it was "active and intense."
"It's not like an active trail where the child was missing (only) yesterday," said Officer Rebecca Innocenti, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman.
It was not immediately clear if Lopez had an attorney or when he would return to Maryland to face charges. Police said he has an extradition hearing scheduled in North Carolina on Monday afternoon. No motive was readily apparent, either.
McCombs said he dated McQuain from 1995 to 2007 and helped raise William as a young boy, even as Lopez was serving time in prison and rarely was in touch with McQuain or her son. He said he was close to McQuain until her death.
"School was number one for her son - and sports," McCombs said. "Everything her son basically wanted, she provided. Maybe she spoiled him too much, but she loved him that much."
Photos on McQuain's Facebook page depict a proud and doting mother. Dozens of pictures show William - often beaming - at a petting zoo on a Mother's Day outing and playing recreation league baseball or football and posing in his uniform. By Friday, many of McQuain's Facebook friends had changed their profile pictures to an image of William.
Friends and supporters held a prayer vigil for William McQuain on Friday night.
Christina Bassett, a children's youth ministry leader at the church William attended, said William loves sports and animals. When his pet hamster died, he described how he felt better after praying with his mother, Bassett said. She said William's friends have been distressed and struggling to comprehend the severity of the situation. She took a walk with one boy near William's condo on Thursday to comfort him.
"They were convinced that he was hiding in one of their favorite little hiding spots and wanted to go out and look," Bassett said. "I explained, it's been two weeks, he's not there, and he's not a boy who would step away from his mom."
Pennsylvania corrections records show Lopez served time from 1987 until his parole in 2000. He was at a prison in Camp Hill, Pa., at the time of a 1989 riot that involved hostages, injuries and millions of dollars in damage to the facility, but it was unclear if he played any role in the riots, said corrections department spokeswoman Sue McNaughton.
Lopez and McQuain remained married while Lopez was in prison, but he had a virtually nonexistent relationship with her during that time. McCombs also said McQuain had nothing to do with William's biological father, and that William had never met the man.
McCombs acknowledged that his own relationship with McQuain was tempestuous at times. He said she struggled with alcohol addiction but got sober in recent years to care for William. Maryland court records show McCombs accused McQuain of assaulting him on several occasions, but McCombs said he never pursued the charges.
Lopez had tried in recent years to become involved in McQuain's life, McCombs said, and had even requested that William call him "dad." More recently, he said, Lopez had been visiting McQuain in hopes of coming up with extra money. Witnesses told police that they had recently seen Lopez removing property and items from her condo and placing it in her car.
The relief at arresting a suspect was tempered by the disappointment in not locating the missing boy.
"She lived for that boy," Bassett said. "She changed her life for him."