Father of unborn child arrested in death of pregnant mother in St. Lucie County

Father of unborn child arrested in death of pregnant mother in St. Lucie County (St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office)

The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office held a news conference with updates on a pregnant woman found dead last month.

Jose Soto-Escalera was arrested Friday afternoon on two counts of first-degree murder, according to the sheriff's office. Soto-Escalera was found on Port St. Lucie Boulevard around 1:30 p.m. driving his wife's car. He was believed to be driving to Martin County and was armed at the time of his arrest. He had been under surveillance for quite some time.

Tania Esther Wise, 23, was discovered in a ditch along Russos Road near Johnston Road Aug. 24, according to the sheriff's office. She was pregnant with her second child, Josiah Thomas, at the time of her death. Deputies believe Soto-Escalera killed Wise in the area where she was found the night of Aug. 23, and her body was discovered the next day.

Soto-Escalera is the father of Wise's unborn child, despite being married to another woman, the sheriff's office said. He has four other children.

Wise was eight and a half months pregnant when she was killed, and was due to have a C-section the next week.

“This important information is not only thanks to digital forensic evidence, but to eyewitnesses who confirmed seeing a truck matching the description of the one owned by Jose on Russo road the night that Tonya was murdered," Mascara said. “We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Tonya’s family and know that what took place today will begin to bring them closure in this horrible and tragic event.”

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