A skeleton and a sodden SUV submerged in a West Miami-Dade canal may have finally answered the question that has nagged police investigators for more than a year: What happened to Raquel Calderin?
Miami-Dade police detectives scouring a canal near the Everglades have found a corpse and the woman’s SUV, bolstering the circumstantial murder case against her husband, who had been charged despite the lack of a body.
The department said that late Monday, police divers found Calderin’s Ford Expedition submerged in a canal along Krome Avenue north of Tamiami Trail in West Miami-Dade.
The Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday was working to identify the skeletal remains – presumably hers – found in the driver’s seat of the waterlogged SUV, and determine a cause of death.
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Exactly how investigators honed in on the location has yet to be released to the public.
Calderin had been missing since September 2012, when she disappeared mysteriously from Gloria Floyd Elementary in Kendall.
A mother of three, the school custodian was estranged from her husband and wanted a divorce. She had described him as a jealous, violent stalker.
Even without the body, Miami-Dade homicide detectives arrested her husband, Jesus Maqueira, who was charged in February 2013 with murder and aggravated stalking. He is jailed while awaiting trial.
Cell phone records placed Maqueira with Calderin when she disappeared after leaving work, according to prosecutors. Witnesses also contradicted his alibi that he was at a pal’s house that night, police say.
To her friends and family, Maqueira, 56, also made cryptic remarks, according to police, even saying that whoever killed his 43-year-old wife “would never be found because she was probably dead in a canal.”
He also defiantly mocked police officers during hours of interrogations. His defense lawyer, Alex Michaels, told reporters Tuesday that he had not had a chance to assess the effect of the body’s discovery on the case.
A fellow jail inmate also told Miami-Dade police that Maqueira confessed to hiding in the back seat of Calderin’s Ford Expedition and implied he beat her to death before dumping her corpse in a body of water.