LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors said Friday they will not file criminal charges against the two adult children of a woman who authorities say stabbed her ex-boyfriend to death, dismembered his body and wheeled some of the parts down a suburban Southern California street in a 30-gallon trash can.
The decision means that Daniel Ortiz, 25, and Chanel Alicia Ortiz, 26, both of Riverside, will be released from a San Bernardino County jail as early as Friday evening, said Deputy District Attorney Erica Gallegos. She declined to say why authorities were not charging the two, who were arrested earlier in the week on suspicion of helping their mother dispose of the remains.
Their mother, Carmen Montenegro, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend, Samuel Wiggins Jr. The 63-year-old was last seen around April 20 and was officially reported missing by his family in early May, authorities have said.
Authorities said their suspect also has a criminal history under the name Carmen Montelongo and used both names, but charging documents in the current case list her last name as Montenegro. Gallegos said Friday she believes the woman's true last name is Montelongo but that a judge would determine her identity at a future court hearing and an alias could be added to the charging documents.
Montenegro was arrested on Sunday after neighbors reported a woman pushing a trash can containing body parts down a street in Ontario, a city about 40 miles east of Los Angeles.
Police found a torso and legs at the address, which was the home of some of Montenegro's relatives, and later discovered a head and arms in two large flower pots that Montenegro and her son delivered on Mother's Day to another relative's address in Bell Gardens, near Los Angeles, said David Hidalgo, supervisor of the district attorney's family violence unit.
"It's hard to comprehend that someone could be so callous and pushing body parts down the street in a trash can like it was nothing," Hidalgo said. "She was desperate and she was looking for people to help her dispose of the body."
Authorities believe Montenegro killed Wiggins at his home in Diamond Bar, in Los Angeles County, and then transported the remains to her relative's home in Ontario, where she buried the body parts. She dug several deep holes and told relatives she was re-doing the garden, Hidalgo said.
Investigators have also discovered carpet at a home in Riverside where Montenegro was renting storage space, Hidalgo said. The carpet was in a large cardboard box that was used to deliver a sofa and is believed to have come from the victim's house, he said.
A family member of Montenegro, Matthew Bell, told The San Bernardino Sun that he saw Montenegro in a hole in the backyard of his grandmother's house on Sunday. He said he also saw her throw body parts in the trash can and that she offered him $5,000 to help dispose of the remains.
Bell said he instead went to call police and that Montenegro followed him with the trash can, still pleading for help.
She was arrested about 200 yards from the home.
Authorities are pursuing several theories for a motive and continue to investigate. Investigators have surveillance video showing Montenegro, 51, using credit and ATM cards belonging to Wiggins after he disappeared and Montenegro also used Wiggins' car in the days after his disappearance, Hidalgo said.
Montenegro also told police that she had been sexually abused and authorities are also considering that as a possible motive, he said.