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Felony charges filed against three additional suspects in missing couple case

Felony charges were filed today against three people who are accused along with three previously charged suspects in the killings of a Coachella Valley couple who were reported missing three years ago.

Aaron Fernando Bernal, 28, of Indio, and Coachella residents Adilene Ines Castaneda, 27, and Eric Rios, 31, were arrested Tuesday for the killings of Audrey Moran, 26, and Jonathan Reynoso, 28, who disappeared May 10, 2017.

Bernal and Castaneda were each charged with one count of murder and accessory after the fact. They are also facing a special circumstance allegation of killing a witness of a crime, which could make them eligible for the death penalty if convicted, and if prosecutors opt to pursue it.

Rios was charged with two counts of being accessory to murder after the fact.

Aaron Fernando Bernal, Eric Rios, and Adilene Ines Castaneda

The three defendants remain behind bars awaiting arraignment, scheduled Monday for Castaneda and Rios, and Friday for Bernal, court records show.

The trio were arrested after homicide investigators continued "working and processing investigative leads" in the case, but additional information was not provided.

Back in 2018, News Channel 3 I-Team investigator John White went to a Coachella home, where neighbors at the time said Bernal lived, then calling him Moran's ex-boyfriend.

Search warrants revealed authorities were looking for Bernal's car and found it burned in a field in thermal just days after the couple disappeared in an apparent arson fire.

A total of six suspects have been arrested in this case.

On June 28, three other men were arrested and charged with in relation to the killing of the couple.

Manuel Rios, age 28 of Coachella, Abraham Fregoso, age 32 of Indio, and Jesus Ruiz Jr., age 41 Stockton, were arrested for in connection with the murder.

(From Left to Right) Manuel Rios, Abraham Fregoso, and Jesus Ruiz Jr

On June 30, Sheriff Chad Bianco announced during the news conference that investigators recently located remains believed to be the couple, but authorities were awaiting DNA results.

District Attorney Mike Hestrin confirmed that Manuel Rios and Fregoso were charged with murder and a special circumstance of killing a witness. It was not immediately clear if he and Eric Rios are related

Hestrin confirmed the witness was Audrey Moran.

Ruiz is charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact, although his role in the alleged murders has not been disclosed.

Moran was last heard from when she left her Coachella home to pick up Reynoso, who may have been returning to the Coachella Valley from the Brawley area the day the couple went missing, according to investigators.

Moran said she was going to give Reynoso a ride to his Palm Desert home, but the SUV she drove was found parked on the side of Interstate 10 in Beaumont two days after the pair were last heard from.

A police bloodhound detected their scent near the SUV, but the trail disappeared about 50 feet from the vehicle, authorities said.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.

Missing Couple Mystery / News / News Headlines / Top Stories

Jesus Reyes

City News Service

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