HAZLETON — Maria Brea’s body was wrapped in plastic and bound by duct tape before being hidden in her apartment attic on East Diamond Avenue in December, state police Trooper John Corrigan testified on Monday.
Corrigan, a member of the Troop N Forensic Services Unit, was one of several law enforcement officials who took the stand at Oscar Lozano-Garcia’s preliminary hearing before District Judge Daniel O’Donnell.
Hazleton police and Luzerne County detectives allege Lozano-Garcia, 36, killed Brea, 32, because she had ended their relationship on Dec. 14, 2012.
Although charged with an open count of criminal homicide in January 2013 and was captured by U.S. Marshals in Puebla, Mexico, a year later. Extradition from Mexico to Luzerne County was completed in June.
Brea’s body was found in the attic on Dec. 18, 2012, three days after her family reported her missing when she failed to pick up her two children at school.
Corrigan said Brea’s body was wrapped in plastic that measured 60 inches wide and 100 inches long and bound by duct tape. A Dollar General plastic bag was placed over her head and also bound by duct tape. When the shopping bag was removed during an autopsy, Corrigan said a white sock covered Brea’s mouth secured in place with duct tape.
Her wrists and ankles were bound together with duct tape, Corrigan said.
Brea was found wearing a sock on her right foot while her left foot was bare.
The same type of plastic found wrapped around Brea’s body was found in Lozano-Garcia’s 2000 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, Corrigan said.
Recently retired Trooper Michael Boone, a fingerprint analyst, said seven latent prints recovered from the duct tape around Brea’s body and attic door matched Lozano-Garcia’s fingerprints.
Coroner Bill Lisman said an autopsy showed Brea died from strangulation. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Hazleton Patrolman Jeffrey Turse said Brea’s sister, Wendy Rodriguez, reported her missing on Dec. 15, 2012. A day earlier, Rodriguez told police she had spoken to Brea who claimed Lozano-Garcia took the break-up well.
Rodriguez had phoned Lozano-Garcia on Dec. 15, 2012, asking if he had seen Brea. He allegedly “laughed” when he told Rodriguez he was leaving work, Turse said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that Lozano-Garcia entered Mexico on Dec. 17, 2012.
O’Donnell forwarded the criminal homicide charge to county court.
County Public Defenders Mark Singer and John Sobota are defending Lozano-Garcia.
Assistant district attorneys Dan Zola and Michelle Hardik are prosecuting.