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Astoria man charged in death of Salem woman who disappeared

September 22, 2021 GMT

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — An Astoria man is facing charges in connection with the murder of a Salem woman who went missing in March.

Gustavo Ochoa-Valadez was arrested and is being held without bail at the Marion County Jail in the death of 42-year-old Tonna Marie Purnell, The Statesman Journal reported.

Ochoa-Valadez, 35, was arraigned earlier this month on murder, kidnapping and unlawful use of a firearm charges.

A charging document from the Marion County District Attorney’s Office alleges Ochoa-Valadez kidnapped Purnell, was a “participant in the crime,” and “caused her death.” Authorities have not said if Purnell’s body was found.

It wasn’t immediately known if Ochoa-Valadez has a lawyer to comment on the case.

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The alleged crimes occurred “on or about” March 29 in Dayton and Salem, according to a probable cause statement and court records. Details of the probable cause affidavit have been sealed.

Salem Police officials wouldn’t say whether officers are looking for additional suspects and declined to provide further details, citing an open and “complex” investigation.

Purnell’s last whereabouts remain unclear, but family and friends say one of her last known interactions was with a family member on March 27. Salem Police Department spokesperson Lt. Treven Upkes said a missing person report for Purnell was filed April 7.