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California Man Charged In Wife's Death Nearly Five Years After She Disappeared

Authorities believe Eddy Reyes lured his wife out with a promise of dancing and then took her to his mother's home and killed her. 

By Jill Sederstrom

A California man has been arrested in connection with the 2016 disappearance of his wife.

Eddy Reyes, 35, is facing federal charges of kidnapping resulting in death in the Santa Ana disappearance of his wife, Claudia Sanchez Reyes. The 21-year-old vanished May 6, 2016 after leaving her workplace, according to a statement from The United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California.

The criminal complaint in the case obtained by Oxygen.com, states that Claudia’s coworkers had heard her fighting with her husband shortly before he picked her up from her job at El Pollo Loco in a rented SUV.

The coworker told authorities that Eddy, an employee of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, later apologized during the call and convinced Claudia to go out dancing with him that night.

Instead of taking her dancing, authorities alleged that Eddy took her to the home of his mother, Maria Orellana, and killed her, according to the court documents.

Claudia Sanchez Reyes

Investigators say Claudia was captured on surveillance video on May 6 leaving the couple's apartment with her 4-year-old son who she dropped off at her mother-in-law's apartment on her way to work. She's not seen ever reentering the apartment.

Eddy reported his wife missing to Santa Ana Police four days later.

Investigators have said that Orellana “hated Claudia” and once told her that “she and Reyes could kill Claudia and take her child,” according to the criminal complaint.

Detectives found a drop of her blood in the rented SUV her husband was driving the day she vanished. According to investigators, a cadaver dog also indicated that a dead body had been in the vehicle.

The couple had a history of alleged domestic abuse carried out by Eddy, who had brought his young wife to the United States from El Salvador after meeting her on a trip. They began a sexual relationship when she was 16-year-old, authorities said.

Over the course of their relationship, investigators said he had made “several threats to kill her.”

Claudia obtained temporary restraining orders against him in 2014 and 2016, according to the affidavit.

“Reyes physically and mentally abused Claudia,” the criminal compliant states.

On one occasion, authorities said Eddy allegedly paid a stranger $300 to steal his wife’s phone because it had “incriminating evidence about him that could ruin his career.”

He later asked the same person to plant cocaine on his wife, authorities allege.

In her application for the 2016 restraining order taken out against her husband, Claudia had said she was afraid for her life.

“I am frightened that my husband will hurt our son, me and/or himself. He is very violent and has a quick temper when things don’t go his way,” she wrote.

She recounted an incident at a laundromat where he allegedly struck her, leaving a “noticeable bruise” after she forgot to bring the laundromat card.

She also said she had agreed to dismiss the first restraining order taken out in 2014 because Reyes “threatened to take their son and kill himself if she did not dismiss the restraining order,” she wrote, adding that she had been afraid for her son.

A coworker described Claudia as "anxious and distracted" on the day she disappeared. 

In the days that followed those who knew Claudia, including her mother, reported receiving strange text messages saying she was “sleeping around” and had met someone and planned to move to New York because she “no longer loved her son or Reyes,” authorities said.

Those who received the messages thought they were suspicious because she was a “devoted” and “over-protective” mom.

If convicted of causing her death Reyes could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.  

He’s currently being held without bond and is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges against him on Monday.

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