Oct. 13, 2011 -- Police have arrested the estranged husband of Maryland mom Jane McQuain in connection with her murder, but are still searching for her 11-year-old son William who was last seen several weeks ago.
Curtis Lopez was arrested at 9:30 a.m. today in North Carolina and charged with first degree murder of McQuain, who just weeks ago confided to an ex-boyfriend that she was afraid of Lopez and thought he might kill her.
McQuain, 51, of Germantown, Md., was found dead in her home Wednesday afternoon after a friend contacted police saying they hadn't been able to get in touch with her in awhile. William McQuain, 11, was declared a missing person and Maryland state police issued an Amber Alert to try and locate him.
Montgomery County, Md., police chief Thomas Manger said today that witnesses had helped lead police to Lopez, saying they had seen Lopez around the home and loading property into McQuain's vehicle around the time of the murder.
"He had been known to frequent the residence, and though he did not appear to live there, he had been seen in residence and been seen removing property from residence and loading it into the vehicle," Manger said. "He was contacted (Wednesday) night by detectives, prior to the detectives discovering the body, and once theydiscovered the body, his inconsistent statements led him to become a person of interest."
Charged in Mom's Murder, But Young Son Missing
William, who is not Lopez's son, was last seen Sept. 30, although police didn't discovered he was missing until they found the body of his slain mother on Oct. 12.
"Our focus and priority is locating William McQuain, and we are asking the public's help," Manger said, holding up photos of the boy during a press conference today. "Please contact the Montgormery County Police Department. Our priority and focus is locating William. We were hoping we'd find him with Mr. Lopez and we did not."
Manger said police are still trying to determine the cause and time of death, but believe the murder occurred after Oct. 1 or Oct. 2. McQuain showed signs of trauma to her upper body, they said.
According to police, a friend of Jane McQuain's reportedly called police around noon on Wednesday to say that he had not been able to contact her and asked them to check on her. Police arrived at the residence to find Jane McQuain, 51, dead in her bedroom, in what appeared to be a murder. They are awaiting the results of the medical examiner's report today, but said there had been evidence of trauma to her body.
Ronald McCombs, McQuain's ex-boyfriend, said that he knew Lopez was responsible when he heard the news of McQuain's death early today.
"We talked two weeks ago and Jane said she was scared for her life, that he was threatening to kill her, he wanted to move back with her," McCombs said. "She didn't want him. He doesn't work, he hasn't had a job since he left prison three or four or five years ago and she didn't want anyone right now. Just wanted to focus on raising William."
McCombs said Lopez had been in prison for stabbing a man multiple times and putting him in a trunk, and had been in jail for twenty-some years. Lopez and McQuain had been married before Lopez went to prison, McCombs said.
An Amber Alert issued Wednesday night gave a description of the missing vehicle from the McQuain home. Police received a call about the vehicle this morning that led them to an Econo Lodge in North Carolina, where they later found and arrested Lopez, Manger said.
Search for 11-Year-Old William McQuain
Dana Tophid, spokesman for the Montgomery County school district, would not comment on why the boy had not been reported missing since Sept. 30. Tophid said only that the district is cooperating with the investigation and supplying support services to students in the school.
Police in Montgomery County refused to release police records on Jane McQuain relating to multiple incidences of assault, resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, disorderly house, and other complaints at her home. Police said the details of the records are part of the ongoing probe.
McCombs said many of those incidences were related to alcohol and involved arguments between himself and McQuain. The two dated dated from 1995 to 2007, he said.
"I'm still in love with Jane. I always will be. She cleaned her life up," he said. "I hope, I hate to say this, I hope Curtis get what's coming to him."
Jane McQuain's brother and sister-in-law declined to comment on the case when reached at their home.
The missing boy is described as approximately 5 feet tall and weighing 85 pounds.