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Reno missing woman case treated as homicide

Evidence collected at husband's home

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Lyle Montgomery is taken into custody in Reno, Nevada.

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CNN's Thelma Gutierrez says authorities are still looking for the mother of Jacob Montgomery, who was abandoned at a Salt Lake City store.
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Police say Lyle Montgomery left his stepson Jacob in a shopping cart in a Salt Lake City, Utah, store. CNN's Rusty Dornin reports.
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RENO, Nevada (CNN) -- Police suspect homicide in the mysterious disappearance of Jeanette Corpuz, the mother of a 3-year-old boy abandoned Saturday at a department store in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Reno Police Chief Jerry Hoover said Thursday evening that evidence collected during a search of the home of Lyle Montgomery, Corpuz's husband and the boy's stepfather, "would certainly lead us to believe that there was foul play."

Hoover would not outline the evidence that led police to that conclusion, but said Montgomery "falls within the realm of scrutiny" in the investigation. Montgomery, 42, was committed to a psychiatric facility Thursday after overdosing on drugs and alcohol.

On Saturday, Jacob Corpuz was found in the toy department of a ShopKo store in Salt Lake City, about 525 miles from Reno. Surveillance cameras captured images of a man entering the store with the boy, then leaving alone.

Salt Lake City police were unable to identify the boy until Wednesday, when a former day care worker in Reno, who had cared for Jacob, recognized his picture on television and contacted authorities.

Police say they now believe the man in the video was Montgomery. Salt Lake City Police Lt. Jim Jensen said police plan to ask prosecutors to bring child abandonment charges against him.

Hoover said no one is known to have heard from Jeanette Corpuz, 28, since January 21, when she called her ex-husband, Joel Corpuz -- Jacob's biological father -- in California. She was last seen on January 13 by a real estate agent.

She had told people that she was possibly moving to Redding, California, Hoover said.

While the case is still classified as a missing persons case, "we are treating it as a homicide," Hoover said.

In October, after a domestic dispute, Montgomery, a pharmacy manager at a Super Kmart in Reno, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, spousal battery, child endangerment and various weapons charges, Hoover said.

Jacob Corpuz
Jacob Corpuz

On Wednesday, while executing a search warrant at his home, police took Montgomery into custody for questioning and later took him to a hospital. His attorney, Marc Picker, said Montgomery had taken an overdose of drugs and alcohol.

He was then "involuntarily" committed to a psychiatric hospital for at least 72 hours, Picker said.

Police said Montgomery went with them voluntarily and, although he was not arrested, was handcuffed for the safety of officers. He later invoked his right to remain silent, Hoover said.

Montgomery had told a friend that he and Corpuz were divorcing and that he planned to move her to Redding and possibly move there himself, Hoover said. Police found numerous guns and knives in his residence during the search.

Hoover said Joel Corpuz was en route to Utah to retrieve Jacob, who has been in the care of a foster family. Jeanette Corpuz had two children from a previous marriage, who were with their father, according to police.


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