A man who was married to two women at the same time is under arrest on suspicion of murdering one of them, and his other wife also has been arrested in the murder case, Tulare County authorities said Tuesday.
Cecilia Bravo Cabrera, 30, of Tulare, who went missing June 9 and last was seen at the Tachi Palace Casino, is presumed dead and is believed to be a victim of homicide, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux announced Tuesday.
Cabrera’s body has not been found.
Her burned-out car was found near Traver, and when deputies went to her home family members said she was missing.
Detectives spent hundreds of hours investigating her disappearance and are certain she was murdered, Boudreaux said.
Arrested were her husband, Francisco Valdivia, 37, and Rosalina Lopez, 39, both of the Visalia area.
Valdivia was married to both women at the same time, Boudreaux said.
Valdivia already was in custody when he was arrested on suspicion of murder.
He was arrested several days after his wife disappeared on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana for sales and originally was held on $1 million bail due to having several growing sites, authorities said at the time.
Both suspects are now being held without bail.
Valdivia was born in Mexico and apparently was in the United States illegally.
“He never had legal status,” Boudreaux said.
He married Lopez in Mexico in 2007, he said. He married Cabrera, who was born in Bakersfield, in an attempt to gain legal residence, Boudreaux said.
“He used Cecilia in a business relationship to gain himself legal residence,” he said at a news conference.
Lopez is also from Mexico. She and Valdivia lived together, he said.
Boudreaux said the motive for the suspected murder involved “the relationship of these three people” but said he could not be more specific. The case has been turned over to the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, he said.
“I can tell you there have been threats made on her life by the suspects who are in custody,” and investigators have “significant digital forensic evidence” against them, he said.
The case against both Valdivia and Lopez is circumstantial because Cabrera’s body has not been found. Anyone who has information that might help investigators locate her body should call the sheriff’s department, Boudreaux said.
Investigators believe it’s a murder case because although she was a frequent user of social media such as Facebook, that stopped after she disappeared. She also had four children and made no contact with them after she went missing, Boudreaux said.
She was last seen with her husband at Tachi Palace, authorities said. Her burned-out car was found in an orchard about five hours later.
Before the news conference held to announce the arrests, members of Cabrera’s family met with Boudreaux. Some cried as he briefed the media on the case. They declined a request for an interview.