Police say El Paso woman dead, arrest her concert date



EL PASO, Texas — A Texas woman who went missing after going on a date in July was killed, and a man has been arrested in her death, police said Wednesday.

El Paso police said the body of Erika Andrea Gaytan, 29, has not been recovered. She was last heard from July 13 after going to a concert.

“Her body has not been found, but based on forensic and other evidence gathered over the course of the investigation detectives have reason to believe that she is deceased and was the victim of a murder,” police spokesman Enrique Carrillo said in a statement.

Ricardo Marquez, 28, of El Paso has been arrested and charged with her murder, Carrillo said. He is being held on $1 million bond.

Police issued a missing person alert in July describing Gaytan as “endangered.” She was last seen by her family on the day of the concert, and they reported her missing on July 16.

Gaytan’s family said when she went missing that it was not like her to go off and leave her 7-year-old son behind.

According to a police affidavit, Marquez told detectives he had taken Gaytan to his home after their date, but they argued and Gaytan used a ride-hailing app to get a lift. However, police said no such order was made from her phone.

Marquez’s phone records showed he borrowed his brother’s sport utility vehicle and a shovel from his sister the next morning. A search of Marquez’s home turned up the shovel, sand-filled shoes and plastic restraints. Surveillance video showed the SUV headed toward a desert area, then returning an hour later, according to the affidavit.

Laboratory analysis of a rear floor mat by the state crime lab revealed traces of blood determined to have come from Gaytan, the affidavit stated.



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Neptune Society shortchanged cremation customers, California says in suit


The state attorney general sued the Neptune Society on Monday, claiming the well-known company pocketed $100 million that it should have kept in reserve for those who signed up for its prepaid cremation service plans.

As a result, many of the company’s customers failed to get full refunds if they canceled their contracts, and thousands of other prepaid customers could also lose their money if they cancel, the lawsuit says.

The company also falsely claimed to use its own crematoriums when in fact it contracted with others and illegally accelerated payments when customers died, among other misleading business practices, the lawsuit says.

Beth Dombrowa, a spokeswoman for Neptune and its parent company, Texas-based Service Corp. International, said she could not immediately comment. The lawsuit also names a subsidiary, the Trident Society.

The company and its subsidiaries are North America’s largest provider of funeral, cremation and cemetery services.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra and three Bay Area prosecutors said that the Neptune Society broke state law by failing to hold in a fully refundable trust more than $100 million customers paid for the cremation plans.

The lawsuit does not say that anyone lacked the money when it came time to be cremated, only that it’s a possibility because Neptune doesn’t properly set aside the money it collects. But it says the company shortchanged customers who were entitled to full refunds if they canceled their contracts.

“Everyone dies,” begins the lawsuit, noting that in California nearly two-thirds of people choose to be cremated when the inevitable happens. Many choose to prepay for those services through companies such as Neptune.

The company is “swindling customers who were simply trying to look out for their families and prepare for one of life’s most difficult moments,” Becerra said in a statement.

The suit alleges that Neptune steered 99% of customers to its Standard Neptune Plan, which included both cremation services and related products, but then illegally kept about half the money because it was earmarked for the products.

The suit says Neptune thus deceived consumers who thought all their money was protected, as required by California law.

“Consumers should expect the money paid toward future funeral needs will be fully protected and available to pay for the necessary services when the need ultimately arises so family and loved ones are not further burdened,” Marin County Dist. Atty. Lori Frugoli said in a statement.





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Islanders’ 17-game point streak ends in lopsided loss to Ducks



ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist, John Gibson made 23 saves and the Ducks ended the Islanders’ 17-game point streak with a 3-0 victory Monday night.

The Islanders hadn’t lost in regulation since Oct. 11 against Carolina, but had gone into overtime in each of their previous four games before facing Anaheim. They lost in OT against San Jose on Saturday.

The Islanders had a 16-5 advantage in shots during the first period and a 26-23 edge in the game, but couldn’t find a way to beat Gibson, who earned his first shutout of the season.

The Ducks put the game away late in the third period when Cam Fowler and Ondrej Kase scored just more than a minute apart. Anaheim ended its three-game losing streak and a five-game skid at home.

The Ducks broke through in a scoreless game at 10:28 of the opening period when Getzlaf got his stick on a rebound after Rickard Rakell’s shot from the blue line. In an attempt to clear the puck from in front, Islanders forward Jordan Eberle redirected it into his own net.

Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss made 20 saves. He was 8-0-0 during the point streak with 233 saves.

Greiss kept the Islanders in the game until the 13:13 mark of the third period when Fowler took a pass from Getzlaf, who was next to the Islanders net, and scored his fifth of the season



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