ORANGE, Calif. – Prosecutors filed murder charges Monday against a man who was arrested for killing his girlfriend and their two young sons after a cleaning crew found blood stains on a carpet inside their recently vacated apartment in an upscale, gated community.
Shazer Fernando Limas, 31, of Orange faces three counts of murder with special circumstances in the case that has raised more questions than answers. His arraignment was continued to May 23.
Prosecutors suspect Limas killed his family more than three weeks ago, but no one reported Arlet Contreras, 31, and the children missing, and there were no signs anything was amiss until the bloody carpet was reported, police Sgt. Dan Adams said.
Police found the body of Contreras on Friday at the Los Angeles County coroner's office, where it had been kept as a Jane Doe since being discovered 10 days ago in a gutter in La Puente, more than 20 miles to the north of the Orange apartment.
Authorities are now searching for the bodies of the two boys, ages 4 months and 2 years, in a landfill.
"It's a very tragic case," Adams said. "We believe that they are dead. We just haven't been able to find their bodies."
The bizarre case began to unfold Thursday, when the bloody carpet was reported. At first, police were concerned about the entire family, Adams said.
An officer later spotted Limas in a parking lot in Orange and attempted to contact him. Limas fled, leading police on a high-speed chase through most of Orange County.
After his arrest late Thursday, police began contacting morgues and found the body Contreras in Los Angeles.
Authorities believe Limas stabbed Contreras and the two boys on April 14 but didn't vacate the apartment for 10 days, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.
Limas went to a hospital for surgery for a cut on his hand on April 15 and bought supplies on April 24, the same day he moved out of the apartment, authorities said.
Court filings indicate that Limas was ordered to pay child support of $284 a month to Contreras starting on April 1, according to The Orange County Register.
Scott Simmons, the prosecutor handling the case, told The Associated Press that authorities are looking into that as a motive.
One of Limas' ex-wives claimed in a 2007 court filing that he grabbed and wrestled with her on one occasion and another time pointed an air gun at her and pulled the trigger, the Register reported. The gun was empty.
A judge issued the woman a one-year protective restraining order requiring Limas to stay at least 100 yards away and not call her, records show.
She and Limas filed for divorce days later.