Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
Jorge Rico-Ruvira was arrested in October after police say he choked the mother of his child – at one point telling her to die in Spanish and accusing her of having an affair.
Afterward, relatives urged the woman, Isela Mauricio-Sanchez, to leave Rico-Ruvira because “the next time he could kill her.” She insisted the couple would work it out.
On Tuesday, Mauricio-Sanchez’s father found the 27-year-old strangled in her bed. Coat hangers littered the floor, the closets were cleaned out and a security camera had been ripped from an exterior wall.
The woman’s 8-year-old daughter was inside the house and knew something was wrong with her mom but thought she was just sleeping.
Rico-Ruvira, 32, and the couple’s 3-year-old son, Osiel Ernesto Rico, were nowhere to be found. Police say they believe he took her SUV and fled to Mexico.
Roswell police have since charged Rico-Ruvira with first-degree murder in the death of Mauricio-Sanchez and issued an Amber Alert for the toddler.
Both are still missing and believed to be traveling in a maroon 2003 GMC Yukon sport utility vehicle with a turquoise New Mexico license plate, MNF231.
One relative told investigators she believed Rico-Ruvira “would go to Mexico because he does not have any papers,” referring to a green card, “and does not have any family here.”
By 4 p.m. Tuesday, Rico-Ruvira’s phone was pinging in Mexico.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Chaves County Magistrate Court:
Officers responded around 11 a.m. to the home in the 600 block of East Forest after Mauricio-Sanchez’s father found her body “cold to the touch.” There were signs of a struggle in the bedroom – a broken fingernail and tousled clothing.
An autopsy revealed she had been strangled. The home had been cleaned out of Rico-Ruvira and Osiel’s clothing.
The father told police that Rico-Ruvira had called and asked the family to check on Mauricio-Sanchez earlier that morning because she “wouldn’t answer her phone.”
When the father showed up to the home, there was no answer at the door and, eventually, Mauricio-Sanchez’s daughter let him in. The girl told him “something was wrong” with her mom and blood was coming out of her mouth.
In an interview, the girl told detectives they ate as a family the night before but “no one spoke to each other,” and she knew the couple was “mad at each other.”
At one point, Rico-Ruvira called Mauricio-Sanchez “mensa” – slang for crazy or stupid – and everyone went to bed.
The girl told police she awoke to the house being in disarray with hangers strewn about, a TV missing and her mother “asleep.” Osiel and Rico-Ruvira were gone.
Detectives learned that morning that Rico-Ruvira had overdrafted the couple’s account, withdrawing more than $1,000 when there was only about $600 available.
Further interviews with family and friends, along with a police report, revealed trouble had been brewing for the couple in recent months.
Officers were called to the home in the early morning hours of Oct. 21 after police say Rico-Ruvira choked Mauricio-Sanchez in front of Osiel.
Mauricio-Sanchez told police that when she got home from work, Rico-Ruvira accused her of cheating on him. After the argument, she went to lie down with Osiel before Rico-Ruvira attacked her.
Rico-Ruvira was arrested and charged with aggravated battery against a household member, but relatives told police she dropped the charges.
Family members told police they had urged Mauricio-Sanchez to leave Rico-Ruvira after the attack but she insisted she wanted to be with him and he was going to get therapy.
A close friend of Mauricio-Sanchez told police Rico-Ruvira isolated the couple from her family and his behavior escalated – he put up cameras at the house, would often scour her phone and smell her clothes to see if she had been with other men.
The day before her body was found, Mauricio-Sanchez and her daughter brought enchiladas to her parents around 6 p.m.
Rico-Ruvira and Osiel did not come along and Mauricio-Sanchez “did appear like something was going on” between the couple.
Mauricio-Sanchez didn’t mention anything and her family reassured her “they were there for her.”