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Thelma Juaton, 28 [Updated]

Thelma Juaton, a 28-year-old Filipina, died Wednesday, Sept. 22, a day after her car crashed near Mount Emma Road and Angeles Forest Highway in Angeles Crest, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.

Thelma and her husband, Russel Juaton, were in their car Sept. 21 about 10 a.m. when their vehicle went over a cliff, said Ed Winter, spokesman for the coroner's office.

Sheriff's homicide Det. Peter Heck, who is handling the case, said passersby arrived at the crash scene and contacted authorities. Following the crash, Thelma and Russel were taken by paramedics to a hospital to get treatment for their injuries, Heck said.

According to coroner's records, Thelma suffered blunt head trauma which caused brain inactivity, and she was pronounced dead the next day.

Russel Juaton, a 28-year-old Filipino man, suffered non-life threatening injuries, Heck said.

During the investigation, authorities found two notes in the vehicle indicating the crash may have been part of a suicide.

Pending the ongoing investigation, Heck declined to say who wrote the notes and what they said. At this time, investigators are still trying to determine whether Thelma was a willing participant in the crash.

Russel Juaton has since been arrested and charged with murder, Heck said.

He is being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown in lieu of $2 million. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Antelope Valley Court.

[Update Feb. 8: Russel Juaton continues to be held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 18 at the Antelope Valley Court.]

-- Sarah Ardalani

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