VISTA, Calif. – The wife of a Camp Pendleton Marine agreed to go on a dinner cruise with another Marine on the night she disappeared and a plea for help was sent on her cellphone, a friend of the victim testified Monday.
Channy Tal said her friend Brittany Killgore, who was later found dead, had met defendant Marine Sgt. Louis Ray Perez through a friend who lived in the same apartment complex.
Perez is one of three people charged with kidnapping and torturing the 22-year-old Killgore during sadomasochistic sex then killing her.
Testifying at a preliminary hearing, Tal did not say how long Killgore and Perez had known each other before April 13, the last time Killgore was seen.
Tal said Perez stopped by Killgore's apartment that day and insisted she go on a dinner cruise with him.
Tal was in the apartment, helping Killgore pack because she was planning on moving back to Pennsylvania.
Killgore had recently filed for divorce from her husband, Lance Cpl. Cory Killgore, who was deployed to Afghanistan at the time.
Killgore agreed to go on the cruise after calling Perez's girlfriend — a pregnant woman named "Dee" — and getting her approval, Tal said.
Perez had promised Killgore in return that he would find five people who would help with the move, Tal said.
Still, Tal said, Killgore felt uncomfortable about going.
Tal lent her a purple evening gown for the formal dinner. Tal said she also got the phone numbers of Perez and his girlfriend and told Killgore she would give the police the numbers if she did not hear from Killgore.
Tal said she later received the one-word text message, "Help," from Killgore's phone.
Tal said she spent the rest of the evening sending her friend text messages asking if she was OK.
After texting, "Brittany, are you ok? I'm freaking out," Tal said she got a message from Killgore's phone saying "yes." Tal testified that made her suspicious because her friend always would text "yeah" not "yes" in her messages.
Tal then sent a text telling her friend to call.
Tal said she got a call from Killgore's phone but only heard loud music and no one spoke. Tal texted her again to call but heard the same loud music and no one on the other end during the call.
She never spoke to Killgore again.
The preliminary hearing is expected to last five days and determine if the case goes to trial.
Perez, Jessica Lopez and Dorothy Maraglino have pleaded not guilty. Maraglino has given birth since her arrest.
Killgore's relationship to the defendants has been unclear.
Prosecutors have contended that she met them when she and a friend went to a home in Fallbrook, north of San Diego, to buy an item being sold online, according to the North County Times (http://bit.ly/XehcUC ).
Authorities say Killgore was later kidnapped and made an unwilling participant in bondage and torture before she was strangled.
Sheriff's detectives said they found "bondage-type sex apparatuses, toys and tools" in the Fallbrook home where the defendants lived.
Killgore's nude body was found three days later in a ditch near Lake Skinner in Riverside County.
Perez was arrested on April 15 on suspicion of possessing a stolen assault rifle and was later charged with murder.
Lopez was arrested on April 17 at a San Diego hotel where authorities said she was discovered with self-inflicted cuts.
Authorities also found a letter in which Lopez allegedly claimed she killed Killgore out of fear that the woman would steal away Perez, whom she described as her "master."