When a pregnant woman and her six-year-old child mysteriously disappear, her husband becomes the prime suspect.
After a passionate two-year courtship, Alfredo Newball and Cecilia Amaya got married. Cecilia’s son from a previous marriage, Rene Perez, was the ring bearer at their wedding. The couple started their new life together in Chatsworth, California, and almost immediately, Cecilia became pregnant.
On September 20, 1994, with her due date only two weeks away, Cecilia sat down to write thank you notes for gifts from her baby shower. That day, as Alfredo left for work, he says he hesitated at the door for just a moment:
Alfredo worked as a nurse’s assistant in a hospital and retirement home. Two-and-a-half-hours into his shift, he phoned Cecilia:
Alfredo called several times throughout the evening. Concerned, he left work early. As he approached the apartment, he noticed that Cecilia’s car was parked on the street, instead of in the building’s secured lot. He rushed into their apartment in search of his wife and stepson. Inside, there were no signs of a break-in or struggle, but there were no signs of Cecilia and Rene either.
In the Jeep, Alfredo says he found a generic store-bought good-bye card. It was signed simply, “Cecilia.” Cecilia’s wedding and engagement rings had been left on the passenger seat. Shocked, Alfredo thought his wife had left him:
Alfredo phoned the one person he thought might know where she was, her closest friend at work, Kevin Annabel. It was this phone call that first cast suspicion on Alfredo. When Kevin answered the call, Alfredo questioned whether Cecilia was there:
Alfredo said he remained calm because he thought his wife would return to him:
The day after Cecilia disappeared, the police called Alfredo. They had been contacted by one of Cecilia’s relatives. Det. Alex Valadez of the Los Angeles Police Department took on the missing person’s case and found Alfredo’s conduct on the phone strange:
Three days later, suspicion increased when Alfredo received a letter postmarked in nearby Van Nuys, California. Inside the envelope was a card identical to the one Alfredo had found in Cecilia’s car. There was also a typewritten note from Cecilia explaining that she had gone to Honduras with another man, a doctor named Arturo. The note said that she had fallen in love with Arturo nine months earlier, and it was possible he was the father of her unborn child. Alfredo’s first impression was that his wife had indeed left him:
Kevin Annabel also found the letter out of character:
After examining the letter and speaking with her friends and family, Det. Valadez was convinced that the letter was not from Cecilia:
In fact, six months before she disappeared, Cecilia received an odd phone call from a still unidentified woman, who may have been that third party. Cecilia told her friend Cammy Giacomi about it:
The woman said she would phone again to arrange a meeting. But that call never came, and the matter was apparently forgotten. Then, just a few weeks before Cecilia disappeared, she got another mysterious call. This one was from a woman who claimed to work with Alfredo. Again, Cecilia confided in her friend, Cammy:
Police later learned that the call had not been made by Alfredo’s co-worker and that a baby shower had not been planned. But by then, it was too late. According to Cammy, Cecilia disappeared the same day she was supposed to meet with the lady who called about the baby shower. Det. Valadez is convinced that this is not a coincidence and still questions Alfredo’s behavior: