Melissa and Johnny Soto: San Diego Parents Who Mysteriously Vanished Days Before Christmas Found Dead in Car in Apparent Murder-Suicide

The bodies found in the vehicle were not specifically identified, but authorities revealed that they were a 52-year-old Hispanic man and a 45-year-old Filipina woman.

The bodies of a San Diego couple, who went missing just days before Christmas, causing distress among their adult children, have been found close to the Mexican border, in an apparent murder-suicide. Melissa, 45, and Johnny Soto, 52, were found dead in a car after disturbing Ring camera footage showed the night they disappeared.

Melissa and Johnny Soto mysteriously disappeared from their home in the San Ysidro district of San Diego on the night of December 20. The couple, married for two decades and parents to three grown children, had recently gone through a separation, their children told local news outlets. Police are now investigating the incident as a murder-suicide.

Disappeared and Found Dead

Melissa and Johnny Soto
Melissa and Johnny Soto X

On Tuesday, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol found a vehicle in the parking lot of the Golden Acorn Casino in Campo, Calif. The car contained the bodies of a man, who had sustained a "self-inflicted gunshot wound" to the head, and a woman who had succumbed to "undetermined injuries," the San Diego Police said in a press release on Wednesday.

The bodies found in the vehicle were not specifically identified, but authorities revealed that they were a 52-year-old Hispanic man and a 45-year-old Filipina woman.


The couple, described as "living separately," is believed to have been involved in a murder-suicide, with the man allegedly shooting the woman before taking his own life.

The distressing finding follows the perplexing disappearance of the couple, leaving their children shocked and concerned about the well-being of their parents. The couple's troubled marriage added to the worries surrounding their sudden vanishing act.

"It felt like a normal night," Vincent, the youngest son, told the station of the night they vanished, Dec. 20. "[Johnny] was just sitting here watching TV, like he always does."

"And my parents, they always talk," he continued. "He asked me, 'Hey, Vinny, can you leave for a minute? We're going to talk.' So I left the house, not assuming anything."

Melissa and Johnny Soto
Melissa and Johnny Soto with their children X

About two hours later, Vinny's father texted him, indicating that it was safe to return as they had left the house.

Unfortunately, that was the last known contact with the couple. Despite the passage of hours, the pair, who had reportedly separated in July after two decades of marriage, never came back.

"We all had high hopes that they would at least come back for Christmas," Alexia Soto, 23, the couple's oldest daughter, told the outlet.

Desperate Search Ends in Tragedy

Nevertheless, there has been no communication from him since that time, as reported by Vinny, his sisters Alexia, and Elise. Additionally, the couple did not appear at their workplaces as expected.

Melissa and Johnny Soto
Melissa Soto with her children X

Concerned about their parents' unexplained absence, the children contacted the police for help and reached out to their aunt, Christina Sandoval, Sandoval told NBC 7 San Diego that the parents had left without taking any belongings with them.

"They left with no clothes," she said. "They left with nothing. All his clothes that he wears normally, like the sweats there in the bedroom. Her phone was left here. Her wallet was left here. Her keys were left here, and then his phone was turned off about 15 to 20 minutes after he left."

The final moments of the couple at the house were captured by a neighbor's Ring doorbell camera.

Melissa Soto
Melissa Soto X

Ring camera footage showed Melissa arriving at her estranged husband's home around 8:51 pm on the night they went missing. Meanwhile, Johnny, who had attended a work holiday party, was seen returning in his truck around an hour later.

Vincent said that his father joined him to watch TV. However, a few minutes later, Vincent was asked to leave the house.

In the following 15 minutes, footage reveals Melissa's car leaving the driveway but then reversing back. A neighbor's surveillance camera captures the garage door open and Melissa's car trunk ajar about six minutes later, with John's truck conspicuously absent.

The couple's disappearance was undeniably unusual, especially given that, despite their marital issues, family members noted that they still got along.

Melissa and Johnny Soto
Melissa and Johnny Soto with their children X

"Even though they were separated, there were like no issues between them at all," Alexia Soto told ABC 10. "They were still in contact. They still talked. She would come over [to Johnny's house] and talk."

The family of the missing couple has been stuck in a state of suspended animation since their disappearance, as reported by the NBC station.

The Christmas presents for the family members remain untouched under the tree, with the siblings saying that opening them would be too emotionally painful.