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Crime News Breaking News

Police Say Software Engineer Killed Wife, Buried Her In Desert After Custody Battle

Eugene Zamora is accused of killing his wife, Claudia Moreno and hiding her body in the desert after a physical confrontation related to an ongoing custody dispute turned deadly.

By Dorian Geiger
Husbands Who Killed Their Wives

Police say that, after a child custody dispute, an Arizona father allegedly smashed his estranged wife’s head on a bathtub, killing her, and later buried her decomposing body in the desert.

Eugene Zamora, 51, was arrested on Feb. 5 in connection with the November 2021 killing of his wife, Claudia Moreno, according to a Tempe Police Department press release. 

The Arizona software engineer is now facing charges of manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence, abandonment and concealment of a dead body, as well as false reporting charges. 

Zamora, who initially reported his wife missing on Nov. 13, told investigators that Moreno vanished amid the child custody dispute.

Eugene Zamora Pd

The Arizona man, however, later reportedly confessed to getting into a verbal confrontation with Claudia Moreno that turned physical at their apartment three days before he reported her disappearance.

Detectives ultimately determined that Zamora had shoved his wife while they were in their master bathroom, causing her to hit her head.

“He pushed the victim, causing her to fall backwards into the master bathroom and hit the back of her head on [the] ledge of the bathtub, causing a laceration,” a complaint obtained by Oxygen.com stated.

"[Zamora] checked on the victim and found that she had no pulse and was not breathing.”

Zamora allegedly placed Moreno’s body in a plastic bin, which he hid in a bedroom closet. The Arizona man then unplugged the residence’s exterior motion-activated home surveillance system and threw his wife’s phone into a Phoenix lake, prosecutors said in a probable cause statement.

Next, police say, he transported his wife’s body to a storage unit in south Tempe. Lastly, on Nov. 14, Zamora allegedly disposed of the body in a remote area approximately 100 miles away.

The complaint alleges that he admitted to constructing a makeshift grave for Moreno, which he obscured with “branches and brush.” 

Zamora’s relatives, however, noticed the next day that he had injuries he’d apparently sustained while concealing his wife’s body in the Arizona wilderness. According to the case’s probable cause affidavit, “vertical and horizontal scratch marks” were visible on the inner portion of Zamora’s right forearm. The scrapes “appeared consistent with scratches from a sharp bush or plant.” 

Cell phone data evidence reportedly showed Zamora had also traveled to the storage unit around the time authorities suspect Moreno’s corpse was left in the remote area. Investigators say that Zamora ultimately disclosed the alleged location of his wife’s remains.

“[Zamora] voluntarily directed police to the location he disposed of her remains… which was not able to be pinpointed without his direct knowledge," charging documents also stated. “In the area [Zamora] indicated, the ground was moist and a different color from other soil in the area and had a foul odor similar to that of a decomposing corpse.”

Zamora was officially charged in Moreno’s death on Feb. 8, according to court filings.

Authorities are now actively working to affirmatively identify the remains they recovered. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office was unable to provide any updates about the identification, or the possible cause and manner of death, on Wednesday afternoon. 

"At this time, investigators are awaiting analysis and confirmation if the remains located are in fact those of Claudia Moreno,” Tempe Police Department said in a statement. “This portion of the investigation is ongoing.”

No additional information has been released by law enforcement related to the ongoing investigation into Moreno’s apparent killing. 

According to charging documents, Zamora has two daughters, aged six and 12, respectively.

He's originally from California. The 51-year-old worked as an app engineer for Los Angeles-based medical power product manufacturer Online Power for the past 16 years. A human resources employee for the company declined to comment on the open case on Wednesday.

“I have no comment at this time,” the representative told Oxygen.com before abruptly hanging up the telephone.

Zamora is currently being held on a $2,000,000 bond at Towers Jail in Phoenix. His next scheduled court date is on Feb. 10, according to county officials. It’s unclear if he’s retained legal representation to comment on his behalf.