March 19, 2014 at 9:45 PM
CHATHAM, NJ - The body of a 32-year-old mother was discovered in a vacant home on Southern Boulevard in Chatham Township on Wednesday. Her husband has been charged with murder, according to Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park.
Karla Jose Villagra-Garzon's dead body was found late Tuesday night. The Elizabeth woman had been missing for more than three weeks. Abayuba Rivas, 39, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and other offenses in relation to her death. Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue set bail at $2 million.
An autopsy conducted Wednesday concluded that the cause of death was asphyxiation, with blunt force trauma, according to the Union County Medical Examiner's Office.
Villagra-Garzon, the mother of a 2-year-old, was reported missing by Rivas. He said she went missing on the night of Feb. 23. According to Rivas, she left their home on East Jersey Street in Elizabeth to make a purchase at a local pharmacy and never returned.
A joint investigation by 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.
The Chatham Township Police Department and Chatham Township Volunteer Fire Department were among those credited with assisting the investigation.
The case is still active. Anyone with information should contact Detective Danika Ramos of the Union County Prosecutor's Office at 908-965-3807.