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Arrest Made In Case Of Mother Murdered After $20K Casino Win

SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) — More than a month after a mother's body was found stuffed inside a wooden box and dumped in a San Bernardino parking lot, police say they've arrested a suspect.

San Bernardino police went through days of security footage in the search for 34-year-old Marlene Santellan.

The young mother was wrapped in a plastic tarp, stuffed inside a wooden box and left at the scene.

Santellan left behind four kids. Now, finally, there's been some relief for her family.

San Bernardino police have arrested 49-year-old Rico Sanchez after a tireless, month-long investigation uncovered a video and paper trail they say led right to the suspect.

Detectives say someone driving a distinct U-Haul was caught on camera dumping Santellan's body at the scene June 2. They say that distinct U-Haul was rented by Sanchez's mother just hours before, and the suspect is seen on camera at a local hardware store purchasing items that were later found with Santellan's body.

The victim's sister and father were stunned by what evidence police revealed.

"I don't think she deserved this," her father, Ralph, said through tears.

He says what's even more hurtful is that his daughter's accused murderer showed up at a fundraiser for her burial expenses.

"He was at the car wash. He actually shook my hand, we talked. He said, 'My condolences. I'm sorry to hear,'" he remembered.

Police have not released a motive; however, Santellan's sister believes it she was murdered over money, telling CBS2/KCAL9 a day before Santellan was killed she won $20,000 at a local casino, where Sanchez was allegedly by her side.

She hopes the truth will come out.

"I just love her. She's my sister," she said. "And I just pray justice is gonna be served for her."

Sanchez is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

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