CHICAGO – Still dressed in silver sequins, a bride was found stabbed to death in a bathtub hours after her wedding with her groom - who wanted to keep the celebration a secret from most of her family.
You see this sort of thing in the movies. You never expect it to happen next door.
- David Raska, Victim's Neighbor
Now a manhunt is under way for 30-year-old Arnoldo Jiménez, who is accused of first-degree murder in the slaying of Estrella Carrera, 26, shortly after they celebrated their marriage on Friday with friends, said police in the Chicago suburb of Burbank.
"It was a very brutal killing," Capt. Joseph Ford of the Burbank Police Department told The Associated Press Tuesday. "We do our jobs every day, of course. But something like this really motivates you to work even harder."
Carrera's body was found in a bathtub in a silver sequin cocktail dress that she wore at the wedding reception. Ford said it was possible she was also wed in the short shimmering dress.
After the Friday afternoon marriage at Chicago's City Hall, the couple had dinner with friends at a restaurant, then headed to a nightclub in a party limousine. They were last seen at 4 a.m. Saturday, and Carrera's body was found in her Burbank apartment Sunday.
The 6-foot, 220-pound Jiménez was last known to be driving a 2006 black Maserati. Since the killing likely took place just hours after the couple went to her Burbank apartment, the suspect had a day to flee the metropolitan area or even the state, Ford said.
Carrera, the mother of a 2-year-old boy and a 9-year-old daughter, told nearly no one in advance about her plans to marry, inviting a few friends out Friday without saying what she was celebrating, her relatives said. Her body was found after family members became worried they had not heard from her and called police.
Some of those familiar with the couple said there had been incidents of violence during their two years dating, Ford said. But he added that authorities hadn't found any records indicating Carrera ever filed a complaint against Jiménez.
"And we have no indications the two were arguing at any time during the (Friday and early Saturday) celebration," Ford said.
Carrera's family and acquaintances were struggling to comprehend how such a tragedy could happen during what should have been a time of celebration.
"You see this sort of thing in the movies. You never expect it to happen next door," one of her neighbors, David Raska, said before police named Jiménez as a suspect.
Carrera's cousins also were shocked.
"We never thought this would happen," said 27-year-old Jaime Lopez. "Reality still hasn't hit me."
Carerra called another cousin, Sandy Lopez, inviting her to the party but said nothing about a wedding.
"She didn't want to tell me she had gotten married," she said. "She didn't tell anybody besides her father the day before." She told NBC 5 Chicago news that Carrera and her new husband had an on-again, off-again relationship.
The cousins, neither of whom could make it to the Friday party, said Carrera worked as a Spanish-language translator, and they described her as a fiercely independent woman who adored her kids.
"She was a beautiful mother, person, sister," Sandy Lopez said.
Relatives became concerned when Carrera didn't pick up her children on Saturday at her father's, who had been watching his grandchildren while his daughter was celebrating. Police found her body Sunday afternoon during a well-being check.
Another neighbor in Burbank, Jason Tokarczyk, said Carrera had lived in her apartment for the past several months and would greet him but otherwise said little.
"She was quiet as a mouse," he said.
Neighbor Jim Olinger said he had seen Jiménez at his wife-to-be's apartment last week and that he "seemed like a really nice guy."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.