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3 arrested on suspicion of murder in case of missing Coachella Valley couple

Three men have been arrested in connection with the disappearance of a Coachella Valley couple who vanished more than three years ago, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Manuel Rios, 28, of Coachella; Abraham Fregoso, 32, of Indio; and Jesus Ruiz Jr., 41, of Stockton, were arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the presumed deaths of Jonathan Reynoso and Audrey Moran, who went missing in May 2017, authorities said. At the time, Reynoso was 28 and lived in Palm Desert and Moran was 26 and lived in Indio.

Riverside County jail records show Fregoso was taken into custody at 6:30 a.m. Friday at the California Men’s Colony, a state prison in San Luis Obispo, where he has been since June 2019. He is being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center.

Ruiz was arrested at 7 a.m. Friday in Stockton and is also being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center, jail records show.

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Rios has been in jail since Feb. 5 on gun and drug possession charges. He is being held in lieu of $1-million bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

Fregoso and Ruiz are both being held without bail.

All three may appear in court as early as Wednesday, jail records show.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department did not release specifics on what led to the arrest of the three men or why they believe that Moran and Reynoso are dead. According to a news release, investigators “obtained” information during a “lengthy missing person/homicide investigation.”

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A Sheriff’s Department representative declined to provide further information about the investigation Monday and cited the news release for details.

According to a Facebook group known as “Find Audrey Moran,” Moran and Reynoso were last seen May 10, 2017, and were reported missing two days later. The couple were still in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System’s database as of Monday morning.

Moran’s family said that the day she went missing, she told them she was going to pick up Reynoso after he returned from a trip with friends, the Desert Sun reported.

The last contact anyone had with the couple was that evening when Moran’s sister received a selfie photograph of the two of them at Reynoso’s Palm Desert home, the newspaper reported. Police said the photo was not taken the day it was sent, but when the image was made is not known. Moran’s phone was turned off at some point after the picture was sent.

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On May 12, 2017, the Palm Desert Police Department found a vehicle that Moran had been driving on the 10 Freeway in Beaumont, about 45 miles west of Palm Desert, according to a news release. That information appears to have been the last update about the couple since they went missing, according to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department records.

When reached by phone Monday, Moran’s family did not wish to discuss her disappearance. Reynoso’s family could not immediately be reached for comment.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and the public is encouraged to call the tip line at (760) 393-3544 with any information.