Man Found in Trash Can Likely Died of Multiple Stab Wounds

Police are holding victim's girlfriend on $1 million bail.

June 03, 2011, 11:33 AM

June 3, 2011— -- Investigators now say a Southern California man whose body parts were found in a trash can and two large flower pots may have died of multiple stab wounds.

Carmen Montenegro, 51, is being charged with first-degree murder and held on $1 million bail for murdering her boyfriend, Samuel Wiggins Jr. She pleaded not guilty.

Ontario, Calif., police spokesman Jeff Crittenden said he's been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has never seen anything like this before.

"From burying the body to recovering it and walking away with it, you just don't hear things like that," he told

Montenegro's lawyer, public defender Rebecca Taft, did not return calls requesting comment.

Body Parts Discovered in Trash Can

The murder case that now spans three counties began May 29 when several neighbors called police after seeing Montenegro wheel a trash can down a street in Ontario that appeared to contain a body.

When police arrived, they confronted Montenegro on the side of the road.

"She looked more stunned than anything, just like not here, somewhere else," neighbor Ricardo Cuevas told KTLA. After police opened the trash can, the neighbors' fears were confirmed. Cuevas said, "I felt this smell, like a stunning smell. Like, oh my goodness! Police then told me to go inside my house and that's when I went inside my house and I left my door open … and the smell just came inside my house. … It was pretty, pretty bad."

Police believe the body parts -- a torso and legs -- had been buried at the Ontario residence, then dug up and put in the trash can.

A cousin of Montenegro's, Matthew Bell, told the San Bernardino newspaper The Sun that he saw Montengero put the body parts in the trash can, and he said she offered him $5,000 to help get rid of the body. Bell then reportedly called police.

During a follow-up investigation police later found two arms and a head at a relative's house in Bell Gardens. The body parts had been concealed in two large flower pots Montenegro and her son had delivered on Mother's Day.

The coroner identified all of the body parts as belonging to Wiggins.

"It's one of the most gruesome things I've seen," San Bernardino County deputy district attorney Erica Gallegos told "She's obviously sort of depraved to have done this."

Police say Montenegro killed her boyfriend, 63-year-old Wiggins, in his Diamond Bar home in L.A. County, and then allegedly chopped up his body and buried it. According to Gallegos, Montenegro may have hired a day laborer to uncover the body parts.

Wiggins was last seen by relatives May 1, according to police.

Montenegro's children, Daniel Ortiz, 25, and Chanel Alicia Ortiz, 26, were arrested Wednesday under suspicion of conspiracy to murder.

Although Ontario detectives claimed to have uncovered evidence implicating the Ortiz siblings, they will not be charged today.

"We reviewed that case this morning and our chief deputy declined to file any charges due to insufficient evidence," David Hidalgo, a supervisor with the district attorney's office, told

There may be an additional follow-up investigation, he said. In the meantime, the siblings will be released from the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

At this point, investigators say motives for the crime are unclear, but Hidalgo did say the DA's office had been told Montenegro was using her boyfriend's ATM card and had also been using his car. In addition, he said, Montenegro told police she had been sexually assaulted by Wiggins.

The DA's office believes Montenegro is not mentally unstable or incapable of standing trial.

Montenegro, who is from Riverside County, appeared in court Thursday but didn't say anything, Gallegos said.

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