The ex-boyfriend of a Los Angeles woman who disappeared in 2011 in Panama and whose dismembered body was found there nearly two years later has been indicted on first-degree murder charges in her death.
Brian Brimager, 37, a retired Marine, was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego Friday in the death of 42-year-old Yvonne Baldelli. He pleaded not guilty at a subsequent arraignment.
Brimager has been in U.S. custody since June 2013 on charges of obstruction of justice, giving false statements to a federal officer and falsifying records in connection with the case.
Brimager and Baldelli moved together from Los Angeles to Panama in September 2011 in search of a fresh start. Baldelli's family reported her missing the following January after she failed to show up for a reunion.
Her family has said Baldelli, a clothing designer, was frequently out of touch so they did not immediately suspect anything was wrong.
In a news release, the U.S. Department of Justice says the indictment against Brimager alleges that almost immediately after the couple's arrival in Panama, Brimager began emailing another girlfriend - the mother of his young daughter. In the e-mails, Brimager allegedly discussed plans to move back to California to be with the woman.
The charging document also alleges Brimager began physically abusing Baldelli after their arrival in Panama.
The indictment alleges that around November 26, 2011, Brimager murdered Baldelli and then dismembered and disposed of her body in a remote jungle area.
Brimager is accused of engaging in an elaborate scheme to cover up Baldelli's murder that includes destroying evidence, giving false information to police and sending a series of e-mails from Baldelli's account in which he pretended to be her.
The e-mails, which were allegedly sent to Baldelli's family and friends, falsely claimed that Baldelli was alive and living in Costa Rica with another man.
Brimager also allegedly withdrew money from Baldelli's bank accounts after her death in an effort to make it seem as though she was on her way to Costa Rica.
The indictment also alleges Brimager made false statements to the FBI and attempted to conceal the murder by dumping a bloody mattress into the ocean.
Baldelli's remains were found in August 2013, nearly two years after her death, on the island province of Bocas del Toro.
Prosecutor Vielka Gisela Broce said at the time that a man who was cutting bushes found a bag containing Baldelli's remains and contacted police.
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