A 25-year-old North Carolina man was stabbed to death early Monday morning at the Tioga Hotel in downtown Merced, and the victim's wife is behind bars on suspicion of murder.
Merced police arrived at the 1715 N St. building at 1:20 a.m. after a caller reported two people had been stabbed.
Officers found only a man, identified as Jonathon Ross, with fatal stab wounds. The victim's wife, 32-year-old Courtney Ross, was taken into custody after officers noticed she had blood on her person and cuts on her hand, according to Lt. Andre Matthews.
Matthews said it appeared an argument erupted between the couple and led to the stabbing. When asked whether the woman could have been defending herself, Matthews said the motive remains unclear.
"The detectives will be looking at all of those angles and trying to get statements from everybody," he said.
Detectives learned Ross and her husband recently arrived in Merced with their two young children. Matthews said the couple had been staying with family who rent an apartment in the building.
Detectives sought help from representatives with the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center in Fresno because Ross and many of the witnesses are hearing-impaired and communicate using sign language.
The couple's daughters, ages 1 and 3, were left in the care of a family member who lives in Merced.
Ross remains at the Merced County Jail without bail.
The stabbing was the eighth homicide reported this year in Merced County and the fourth fatal domestic violence incident reported in less than a year in the county.
Rudy Romero, 41, was arrested in September on suspicion of killing his wife, elementary school teacher Diane Romero, in Merced.
Commie Britt, 42, was also arrested in September on suspicion of stabbing to death 44-year-old Robert Eugene Blay.
In October, 48-year-old Darryl McCarthy took the life of his wife, 44-year-old Christi McCarthy, with a single shot to the head. He then turned the gun on himself.
Managing Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or email@example.com.