The body of a Valencia County woman who had been missing since earlier this month has been found.

Karla Aguilera, 37, of Adelino, was found near Mile Marker 202 on N.M. 60, near Mountainair, in Torrance County, on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Rosalio Aguilera-Gamboa
Arrested and charged

Her husband, Rosalio Aguilera-Gamboa, 50, is facing one count of first-degree murder, a capital felony; as well as one count of tampering with evidence and one count of child abuse, both third-degree felonies, in relation to Aguilera’s death, according to the criminal complaint filed in district court on Friday, Sept. 16.

Aguilera-Gamboa was found in Kansas and arrested without incident on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Valencia County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Rashad Pearson said detectives traveled to Garden City, Kan., to interview Aguilera-Gamboa and continue investigating the case. Pearson said the man will be extradited to New Mexico to face charges.

Karla Aguilera
Found murdered

Aguilera-Gamboa’s cousin, Maria Guadalupe Navarez Aguilera, was also arrested with him in Kansas, and is charged with accessory to a homicide and harboring a fugitive, Pearson said.

Karla was reported missing by her children on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The three girls told VCSO deputies their mother lived with her husband, their stepfather, Aguilera-Gamboa, at a home on the 60 block of Sedillo Road in Adelino.

Karla was last seen by her youngest daughter on Saturday, Sept. 3, at their home. The 12-year-old girl woke up around 6 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 4, to find her mother and stepfather gone from the house. Karla’s two oldest daughters, one an adult and one age 16, told officers they lived at a different location due to a repeated series of domestic violence incidents at their mother and stepfather’s home.

Maria Guadalupe Navarez Aguilera
Arrested and charged

According to the criminal complaint, Aguilera-Gamboa allegedly has a history of domestic violence, with the most recent incident being him trying to hit Karla with his vehicle after she confronted him with evidence of alleged infidelity.

After waiting about 12 hours for her mother and Aguilera-Gamboa to come home, the youngest daughter called her mother’s phone but her stepfather answered, telling her the couple was “in Albuquerque far away at a hotel.”

He allegedly wouldn’t tell the girl where they were but eventually let her speak to Karla, who said they were at a hotel but didn’t provide more details.

The girl stayed with her older sisters for the next two days, during which time there was no further contact with Karla.

When the girl returned to the home on Sedillo Road on Sept. 6, she found Aguilera-Gamboa, his brother and an unknown woman “hastily packing all of Aguilera-Gamboa’s things” into his BMW and a white Chevy pickup with a Kansas license plate.

The unknown woman was later identified by Karla’s oldest daughter as Guadalupe, Aguilera-Gamboa’s cousin.

He reportedly told the youngest sister they were moving, and that Karla had gotten a new job at a restaurant in Albuquerque. Aguilera-Gamboa left the home around 7 p.m., telling the girl her mother would be home at 9 p.m.

When her mother didn’t returned by 10 p.m., the girl called her oldest sister to pick her up and they reported their mother missing to the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office.

The next day, Karla’s 16-year-old daughter told investigators Aguilera-Gamboa had sent a text message to her younger sister saying he didn’t know where Karla was.

“She was adamant that her mother would never just leave her and her sisters without communication, and had never left their youngest sister alone overnight, let alone for several days,” the criminal complaint noted.

Aguilera-Gamboa’s employer and landlord told deputies he had called in sick to work on Tuesday, Sept. 6, and hadn’t shown up for work on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

According to the complaint, Karla’s phone stopped providing location data around midnight on Sunday, Sept. 4, and records indicate after that texts were ignored and calls went straight to voicemail.

Location data for Aguilera-Gamboa’s phone shows it leaving the home around 3:50 a.m., Monday, Sept. 5, arriving at Mountainair around 4:46 a.m., staying in that location for less than 10 minutes, then returning to the home on Sedillo Road.

Location data indicates he went to work, drove to Albuquerque, then back to Valencia County to a hotel in Los Lunas on Monday, then to Meadow Lake on Tuesday, Sept. 6, back to the hotel and finally to Santa Rosa, ending up in Garden City, Kan., on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, a New Mexico Department of Transportation work crew found Karla about 20 feet south off of N.M. 60 in Torrance County.

During the autopsy by the Office of the Medical Investigator, it was found that Karla had been shot four times.

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.