SAN DIEGO (AP) - A woman arrested in the mysterious slaying of a Camp Pendleton Marine's wife will be charged with first-degree murder Thursday, as prosecutors remained quiet about a possible motive or link between the two people who lived a mile apart in a small town.
Jessica Lynn Lopez, 25, could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of killing 22-year-old Missouri native Brittany Dawn Killgore, whose body was found Tuesday in brush near a Southern California lake.
Lopez was expected to be arraigned later Thursday.
Another Marine, Louis Ray Perez, 45, remained a person of interest in the case. Investigators say he was the last person seen with Killgore.
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to discuss evidence or say if there were additional suspects.
"I understand there's a great deal of interest in the crime and many unanswered questions," she said. "Answers will come in time as this case makes its way through the criminal justice system."
Killgore, who was married to a Marine deployed to Afghanistan, was last seen on April 13, four days after she filed for divorce from her husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore. He is returning to California after learning about his wife's disappearance.
Lopez's attorney Dean Broyles said he didn't know if his client knew Perez or Killgore, who was reported missing Saturday - one day after Lopez turned 25.
"There's a lot of speculation, a lot of innuendo, a lot of weak allegations and charges out there," he said. "I would caution everyone to not jump to conclusions and prejudge based on all the information flying around right now."
Broyles said Lopez would ask the judge for a public defender after her family sought his help in fielding media questions. Lopez's parents, who live in nearby Escondido, released a statement saying they loved their daughter.
Perez was being held on $500,000 bail after pleading not guilty Wednesday to stealing an assault weapon. Authorities say he took the weapon from a man in early February.
It was unclear if the weapon might have been connected to the killing of Killgore.
Perez has been in the military for 16 years, has no criminal history, is married and has lived in the San Diego area for 10 years, said Jeffrey Reichert, his attorney.