santa ana police sign
Santa Ana Police Department. photo.

A 59-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita man was behind bars Friday after returning to the U.S.-Mexican border and surrendering on suspicion of killing his girlfriend in Santa Ana in October.

The suspect was living in Mexico but developed a telephone friendship with a Santa Ana detective and finally agreed to return to the U.S. and give himself up.

There were few details about the murder, other than the fact the woman’s body was found in a parked vehicle.

Jose Valdez Jimenez turned himself in to authorities at U.S.-Mexican border Wednesday and was booked on suspicion of the Oct. 26 killing of 52-year-old Natalia Gamino Jaimes, according to Santa Ana Police Department Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

Through the investigation, police determined where Jimenez was living in Mexico, so the lead detective asked the suspect to call him, Bertagna said. The detective developed a rapport with the suspect and persuaded him to turn himself in Wednesday night, Bertagna said.

Police were called about 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26 to the 600 block of West Russell Street for a welfare check on the victim, Bertagna said. Police found Jaimes dead in a parked vehicle, Bertagna said.

Jaimes was reported missing out of Lake Forest on Oct. 22, Bertagna said.

Jimenez and Jaimes were in a dating relationship, Bertagna said.

Bertagna did not know the cause of death.

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