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Missing Calif. Woman Remains Found

October 8, 1998

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ The partial remains of a pregnant woman who vanished nearly a month ago after being lured from her home by the promise of free diapers were found in the trash in Tijuana, Mexico.

The discovery is the latest development in the disappearance of Margarita Flores, a macabre case that continues to baffle police in the heart of California farm country.

Josefina Sonia Saldana, 40, who is accused of kidnapping Ms. Flores on Sept. 14, remained in jail on $1 million bail and is the sole suspect in the case. She was not immediately charged in Ms. Flores’ slaying.

Police learned of the body parts Tuesday afternoon and identified them as belonging to Ms. Flores through fingerprints.

Fresno police Lt. Jerry Davis, chief of homicide, would not say how Ms. Flores was slain or provide other details Thursday. But the Fresno Bee reported that a homeless person found a woman’s head, arm and foot.

Shortly before her disappearance, Ms. Flores got a call from a woman identifying herself as a charity worker and promising free baby furniture and a year’s supply of diapers. Police said the caller, presumably Ms. Saldana, arrived at the Flores home, and Ms. Flores went off with her, supposedly to go to a warehouse to collect the gifts. She never came back.

Ms. Saldana was arrested the next day after she brought a dead fetus to the hospital. Police are awaiting tests on whether it was Ms. Flores’ fetus.

Police have given no motive for the kidnapping, but Ms. Flores’ family suspects she was taken for her unborn child.

``I’m so glad this is over,″ said her husband, Heliodoro Cruz. ``We know now that wherever Margarita is, she is with us.″ He added: ``Saldana may have damaged her body, but she didn’t touch her soul.″

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