An investigation later revealed that the woman had been dating a 59-year-old man whose body was found hanging from a tree along Interstate 80 four days earlier in an apparent suicide, FOX 40 of Sacramento reported.
The hanging site was less than a mile from the woman’s home, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Investigators believe the woman was murdered because her body showed signs of “significant trauma.”
“During the course of our investigation several factors led us to believe that this was, in fact, a homicide,” Lt. Wesley Herman of the Citrus Heights police told the station.
Citrus Heights is the Sacramento suburb where the woman lived. She was last seen alive around Jan. 8, about a week before she was found dead, the FOX 40 report said.
The couple was believed to have an “off and on” relationship and shared the Citrus Heights apartment at least some of that time, authorities said.
But so far little is known about the circumstances that led to the deaths, investigators told FOX 40.
The man was identified as Robert Rankin but the woman’s identity was not disclosed. Rankin was involved in felony cases in Sacramento County between 2002 and 2004, including facing two counts of making criminal threats to cause death or great bodily harm, but the charges were later downgraded to misdemeanors, the Bee reported.
Authorities say they have been conducting interviews with family members, neighbors and other people who knew the couple in hopes of learning more about what happened.