LANCASTER, Calif.—A 37-year-old man was charged Dec. 26 with murder and arson in connection with the death of a woman—believed to be his girlfriend—whose charred body was found in the trunk of a car in the Quartz Hill neighborhood of Lancaster.
Arraignment for Matthew Switalski had been expected Tuesday at the Antelope Valley Courthouse, but was rescheduled for Jan. 18, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Mr. Switalski was charged with one count of murder and one count of arson of an inhabited structure or property, and is being held without bail.
The L.A. County Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday identified the victim as 27-year-old Veronica Aguilar. As of Tuesday, her cause of death remained deferred pending further investigation.
Mr. Switalski was arrested around 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Kern County and booked on suspicion of murder, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff’s officials said Mr. Switalski owns the home in the 41400 block of 38th Street West where the body was found around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, when fire crews extinguished a fire in the garage.
Ms. Aguilar’s body was found in the trunk of a car that was parked in the garage, sheriff’s officials said.
ABC7 in Los Angeles reported that, hours before Ms. Aguilar’s body was discovered, neighbors reported hearing a “bloodcurdling” woman’s scream, followed by an explosion and then the fire.
Neighbors told reporters the woman was a teacher, and the suspect is believed to be her boyfriend. The family said Ms. Aguilar was a UCLA graduate and elementary school teacher. They have set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses.
As of Wednesday morning, it had raised close to $22,000, surpassing its goal of $20,000.
“My little sister Veronica was taken from us on December 20 2023 [and] her story is all over the news of her brutal death,” her brother, Juan Aguilar, wrote.
“Things will never be the same ever again. We miss her so much. She had the best spirit, she always had a smile. My family is heartbroken.”
Jail records show Mr. Switalski was also arrested in May on suspicion of an unspecified felony.
He is a former Northrop Grumman employee, ABC7 reported.
Anyone with information about the death was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.