Husband in custody in death of DC-area woman, child still missing

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ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — The husband of a slain woman was arrested in North Carolina on Thursday and charged with first-degree murder, but police said they were still searching for her missing 11-year-old son. The boy lived with his mother but was not home when officers arrived.

Curtis Lopez, 45, was taken into custody around 9:30 a.m. Thursday as he was leaving an EconoLodge in Charlotte, N.C. The arrest came after Jane McQuain was found dead in the bedroom of her condominium on Wednesday night in Germantown, about 30 miles northwest of Washington.

Police found her car, but not her son, William McQuain. He was last seen Sept. 30, police said. William is Lopez’s stepson.

“Our priority, our focus right now is to locate William McQuain,” said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger. “We were hoping that we would find him with Mr. Lopez, but we did not.”

Details about the couple’s relationship were not immediately available. Manger said Lopez had recently been seen removing property from McQuain’s home and placing it inside her car.

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Police discovered the 51-year-old McQuain after an acquaintance called police earlier in the day and said she’d not been heard from for about two weeks. It wasn’t clear when she was killed, Manger said, but she is believed to have been alive as recently as Oct. 1 or 2 and possibly later. Detectives spoke with Lopez, and he was deemed a suspect in part because of his inconsistent statements, Manger said.

It was not immediately clear if Lopez had an attorney.

McQuain suffered trauma to her body, but police would not reveal more information about the death pending the release of autopsy results. After her son was not found, the Maryland State Police issued an Amber Alert for the boy. Montgomery County police also obtained a warrant charging Lopez with murder.

Manger said he did not know whether Lopez was being cooperative. It was not immediately clear when he would be returned to Maryland to face charges. Montgomery County detectives went to North Carolina on Thursday to speak with Lopez and search for evidence.

The boy is a sixth-grader at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.

Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the Montgomery County public school system, said he could not discuss the specifics of McQuain’s case, but typically the school sends a recorded phone call to a student’s guardian after an unexplained absence. After more than four consecutive absent days, the guidance office then assumes responsibility for trying to track down a parent or guardian.

“We’re looking at the timeline in this case and we have shared that information with the police,” Tofig said.

Officials at the middle school declined to comment.

Students found out about McQuain’s disappearance Thursday. A letter would also go home to parents, Tofig said.

Josh McDonald, 23, who lives nearby, said he often saw William playing outside with friends but did not know his mother. A photograph distributed by police shows a smiling William in a recreational baseball uniform, with a red, white and blue ribbon around his neck

McDonald said violent crime in the neighborhood was very rare.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.