A Cumberland County, N.J., man has been charged with two counts of homicide in the deaths of a Vineland mother and her 3-month-old daughter, who had been missing since Friday.
Vineland police said Wednesday that 34-year-old Ricardo Santiago was arrested in the deaths of Neidy Ramirez, 34, and her daughter, Genesis Ramirez.
Santiago, of Millville, is the father of another child with Ramirez, police said, but is not Genesis' father. The other child, a 5-year-old, is unharmed and in the care of Ramirez's family.
Detective Lt. Matthew Finley said at a news conference that Santiago, who was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, was being held in the Cumberland County Jail on $1 million bail.
Investigators had been looking for Ramirez and Genesis since they were last seen at a Vineland coin laundry on Friday.
Ramirez was employed for about 10 years at Conte's Pasta in Vineland, where she was a machine operator, manager Claudio Conte said. Her mother, Maria, also worked at the family-owned business.
"She was just a great person," Conte said. "She did everything for us."
Conte said the plant closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and employees were shocked when they returned this week to learn that Ramirez was missing and later was found dead. The company employs about 25 people, he said.
"We are very upset. We are like a family here," Conte said. "She was a very nice girl, always happy and very reliable."
Ramirez's 2005 Chevy Trailblazer was found abandoned on Route 55 in Gloucester County on Saturday.
The victims' bodies were recovered Tuesday night in western Cumberland County, Finley said. He wouldn't say precisely where they were found.
Investigators believe the two died Friday but expect to know more about when and how they died once an autopsy is completed.
The motive behind the killings remains under investigation, though officials said the slayings may have been prompted by an argument.
"They were co-parents and it appears there was some type of dispute going on," Finley said.
Police said investigators were not looking for any other suspects.