Elizabeth mother found dead, husband charged

Tim Fleischer reports from Elizabeth.
March 19, 2014 8:49:32 PM PDT
An Elizabeth mother missing for three weeks has been found dead. Her husband has been charged with her murder.

The body of 32-year-old Karla Jose Villagra Garzon was found by police late Tuesday night in a vacant home on Southern Boulevard in Chatham Township, Morris County.

That's about 20 minutes from Elizabeth.

Her husband, Abayuba Rivas, 39, has been charged with first-degree murder and other offenses in connection with her death.

Bail is set at $2 million.

Her missing person flyer was posted outside her Elizabeth apartment.

And part of the effort to find her was Rivas who told the couples child, "Mommy, went out and she didn't come back yet. I don't have anything else to tell," Rivas had said.

It was a real shock to neighbors when Abayuba Rivas was arrested, going from troubled husband to murder suspect.

"Everybody is surprised because he doesn't say anything," said Jose Calle, a neighbor.

Neighbors had even seen Rivas on Eyewitness News.

"It's not something good, because almost 10 days, out of the house, we don't notice no phone calls," Rivas had said.

Upstairs neighbor Jose Calle remembers talking to Rivas.

"I worry about him asking everybody 'What happened? Do you see my wife?' He never said anything, he's like normal," Calle said.

At the time, Rivas admitted that he and his wife had been having marital problems and had been fighting before she left to pick up a prescription at a local drug store on February 23. He said she never came back.

"She was angry, many times, she had a bad attitude," Rivas said.

An intensive joint investigation involving the Elizabeth Police Department, the Union County Homicide Task Force, and the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit led to Rivas being identified as the primary suspect in the case.

An autopsy conducted Wednesday by the Union County Medical Examiner's Office revealed that Garzon's cause of death was asphyxiation, with blunt-force trauma contributing.

Anyone with information on the investigation is being urged to contact Union County Prosecutor's Office Detective Danika Ramos at 908-965-3807.