Camden County Prosecutor Warren W. Faulk and Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle reported an arrest in the killing of a 21-year-old Pennsauken woman Tuesday.
Joshua Rivera-Santos, M/21, of Pennsauken, was charged with Murder about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. He is accused of killing his girlfriend, Rebecca Ugarte, F/21, of Pennsauken, Tuesday night at his mother’s home on Austin Avenue in Gloucester Township.
It is alleged Rivera-Santos killed Ugarte some time prior to 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to a probable cause statement issued by the State. Ugarte had last been seen alive Monday night.
About 7 a.m. Tuesday Rivera-Santos’ mother Vivian Santos noticed Ugarte lying in the basement covered in blankets, but told detectives she thought the victim was asleep. She went to work, then returned home around noon Tuesday and saw Ugarte was still in the basement. She questioned Rivera-Santos about this, took the blankets off the victim and realized Ugarte was deceased. She then called police.
When officers arrived a cell phone charger’s wire was around Ugarte’s neck. An autopsy determined blunt trauma to the neck caused Ugarte’s death.
“On behalf of the Gloucester Township Police Department, I offer our condolences to the family of Rebecca Ugarte,” Chief Earle said in a statement issued Wednesday. “ Domestic Violence not only violates personal dignity and safety, but affects the community as a whole.”
Chief Earle also highlighted the efforts Gloucester Township Police undertake to stem the damage done by domestic violence, and prevent violence from escalating. The Gloucester Township Police Department currently offers numerous community based programs in an effort to assist domestic violence victims including victim counseling, the Family Violence Prevention Program, a Domestic Violence Response Team, and a Domestic Violence Advocate in our Municipal Court. Any resident who would like information about our domestic violence initiatives may call the Gloucester Township Police Department at (856) 228-4500 or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at (856) 227-1234, said Chief Harry Earle.
Camden County Superior Court Judge Edward McBride ordered Rivera-Santos held on $750,000 bail in an arraignment Wednesday.
All persons charged with criminal offenses are innocent unless and until convicted in a court of law.