CHICAGO — Hours after police found Estrella Carrera stabbed to death in her bathtub, still clad in the silver sequined cocktail dress she wore to celebrate her wedding to her on-and-off boyfriend, her family received a haunting phone call from the groom's family.
Arnoldo Jimenez had called his sister and tearfully told her he had left his bride bleeding after a "bad fight," Carrera's sister said Wednesday.
As a manhunt is under way for Jimenez, who is charged with first-degree murder in Carrera's slaying, the new bride's family is searching for answers to what happened to the 26-year-old mother of two in the hours after she secretly got married at Chicago's City Hall.
Most of Carrera's family disapproved of her relationship with Jimenez, even though he was the father of her 2-year-old son.
Jimenez had hit and bruised Carrera in the past, according to an older sister, Jazmin Carrera, who talked to The Associated Press. Police also said family members reported incidents of violence while the couple was dating.
Jazmin Carrera described 6-foot, 220-pound Jimenez as "very possessive" and jealous. She said she doesn't understand why her sister married the 30-year-old Jimenez in what seemed like a rushed ceremony – or why she married him at all.
"That's the question everyone's asking themselves," Jazmin Carrera said.
She got a text message from her sister Friday, inviting her to join them and their friends at a Mexican restaurant and a nightclub to celebrate the nuptials. She didn't join the festivities.
"It was just all of a sudden," Jazmin Carrera said. "She didn't give us enough notice."
Family members became concerned when Estrella Carrera failed to pick up her two children Saturday as she'd arranged. They were unable to reach Carrera or Jimenez by cellphone, so they asked police to check on her well-being at her apartment in the Chicago suburb of Burbank. That's when Carrera's body was found in a bathtub, still clothed in the dress she wore at the wedding reception. Police said she may have worn that dress at the marriage as well.
On Sunday, relatives heard from a sister of Jimenez that he had called that day, Jazmin Carrera told the AP.
"She said that he was crying and he was really nervous," she said. "He said they had a really bad fight and he had left her bleeding."
Jimenez hung up on his sister and wouldn't pick up when she called him back, Carrera said.
The phone call is the first detail to shed light on what evidence investigators may have given a judge to obtain the warrant. Police in Burbank said they are aware of the account and are looking into it.
Police are pleading with Jimenez to turn himself in "for the sake of his family and especially his children," Capt. Joseph Ford of the Burbank Police Department told the AP. "I am sure they are very concerned for his well-being."
Ford said Jimenez was previously arrested for domestic violence in another city in a case that did not involve Carrera. Police don't know what Jimenez does for a living, although he was last known to be driving a black 2006 Maserati, an expensive car.
"We do not believe Jimenez is a danger to others, but we certainly do not know his mind frame at the present time," Ford told the AP.
Since the killing likely took place mere hours after the couple went to Carrera's apartment, the suspect had a day to flee the metropolitan area or even the state, Ford said. More than 30 law enforcement agencies and the FBI are hunting for him, he said.
The victim's sister said she is taking things "a day at a time."
"The emotions are just on and off," Jazmin Carrera said. "It's unbelievable one minute, and then it hits you and becomes real."