Sheriff's vehicle
A San Diego Sheriff’s vehicle. Photo by Alexander Nguyen

The husband of a Vista woman who went missing under suspicious circumstances over a year ago was arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife and dumping her body near Palomar Mountain, authorities said.

Maria Elena Guzman-Cordova, 38, was reported missing Oct. 14, 2017, from her residence on North Santa Fe Avenue, San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Rich Williams said.

Her husband, 39-year-old Hector Garcia Martinez, told sheriff’s investigators that Guzman-Cordova left the family’s apartment shortly after 9 p.m. the previous night to take a walk after the couple had argued, Williams said. He also told deputies that Guzman-Cordova did not take any personal items with her, Williams said.

Martinez was arrested Thursday morning near his Vista residence, more than a year after he reported his wife’s disappearance, Williams said.

“Maria’s remains were recently located in a rural area near Palomar Mountain and positively identified through her DNA,” Williams said.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office examined the remains but was unable to determine the cause of death, Williams said.

Detectives believe Martinez transported Guzman-Cordova’s body to the Palomar Mountain area in a four-door white sedan or a burgundy SUV last year on Oct. 13 or Oct. 14.

“Evidence gathered over the course of the year-long investigation linked Martinez to Maria Guzman’s murder,” Williams said.

Martinez was booked into the San Diego Central Jail shortly after 1 p.m. on suspicion of first degree murder and he was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Monday afternoon, according to jail records.

Anyone with information about Guzman-Cordova’s death or her husband’s activities on the second weekend in October last year was asked to call the sheriff’s homicide unit at (858) 285-6330 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

–City News Service