Four jailed in woman’s fiery murder

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Three people were behind bars Tuesday in connection with the killing of a woman whose body was dumped and set ablaze last month on a dirt road near the Loveland Reservoir.

A water department employee on his way to work came across the burning body of Kimberly Hayes, 35, on Sequan Truck Trail in Alpine about 5 a.m. March 9, according to sheriff’s officials.

An autopsy determined that the Lakeside resident was a homicide victim. Authorities have withheld the cause of her death.

Evidence indicated that she was murdered in an El Cajon apartment on March 8, sheriff’s Lt. Glenn Giannantonio said.

Last Friday, detectives and members of a fugitive task force arrested three suspects in the case at an El Cajon hotel. Jessi Lydell Mendoza, 29, was jailed on suspicion of murder, arson and possession a firearm silencer. He was being held on $2 million bail.

Lauren Rae Huett, 33, and Matthew Leroy Williams, 30, were booked for alleged conspiracy and being accessories to a crime. Arrested on the same charges the following day at the Santee Sheriff’s Station was Jennifer Stein, 31, who was released on bond Monday afternoon, a jail clerk said. All four suspects are El Cajon residents.

The motive for the killing apparently stemmed from attempts by Hayes to gain custody of Stein’s and Mendoza’s newborn child, according to Giannantonio. The purported grounds for those efforts and the nature of the relationships among the victim and suspects were unclear.

On a social-networking website, Hayes identified herself as an emergency medical technician and former hospital worker. In February, she posted comments about having to report to county jail soon to start a custody term. She did not mention the reason for the sentence.

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