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Calif. murder victim was living in her SUV, report says

Alice Medina-Kaplan

Dept. of Motor Vehicles via CBS Los Angeles

MONROVIA, Calif. - A Southern California man was arrested on suspicion of murder Monday in the death of his girlfriend, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said, reports CBS Los Angeles.

Joel Velasquez, 49, is being held on $1 million bail in the death of 46-year-old Alice Medina-Kaplan, whose body was found in an SUV behind her home in Monrovia on Sunday, according to sheriff's deputies and the coroner's office.

Medina-Kaplan was reportedly mentally ill and had been living in her SUV since April, when she left a treatment center where she'd met Velasquez, reports the station.

Velasquez was detained at the scene. His parents had earlier called deputies at the sheriff's Industry Station and said they were worried about him and his girlfriend.

Velasquez's mother, Maria Cortes said her son told her by phone and text message that he was hurting himself and it was too late for his girlfriend, according to CBS Los Angeles.

"It was terrible, really terrible. He cut his arms," Cortes said. "I guess she drank a beer or something or had some drinks and he just like really lost it. He was trying to make her quiet. I guess he choked her," she said.

Cortes said her son and his girlfriend both suffered from mental illness.

"My whole life I've been trying to help him, to get help. Never in a million years would I believe this was going to happen, never," Cortes said.

Earlier sheriff's Deputy Amber Smith said Medina-Kaplan was apparently strangled, but an autopsy is pending.