Police search home of NC man whose estranged wife went missing over a year ago

It’s been over a year since Isebella Edixia Arenas seemingly disappeared from her home in Conover, and authorities are still trying to piece together what happened.

On Friday, Conover police executed a search warrant at the home Arenas once shared with her estranged husband, Jose Eduardo Arenas Vargas, on Eastway Lane.

According to the search warrant, police looked to seize, among other items, firearms and weapons that “may have been used to facilitate the crime of murder.”

Conover Police Chief Eric Loftin said Tuesday that cadaver dogs were also brought in to search the property.

Officers also took, the search warrant said, routers, an iPhone, a hand tool, and various items belonging to Arenas, such as clothing and jewelry. Samples of a mattress and carpeting were also cut and taken from the home.

There was probable cause to believe, the search warrant application said, the items police were seeking to seize constituted evidence that murder was committed, as well as the identity of the person who committed the crime.

The officer who applied for the search warrant later wrote that Vargas, Arenas’ husband, “appears to have more involvement in this case than he disclosed to law enforcement.”

To show there was probable cause, that officer laid out background information about Arenas and Vargas, as well as the events leading up to Arenas’ disappearance 14 months ago.

History of domestic violence

The 28-year-old mother of two went missing in December 2022. Arenas was unemployed and searching for a job in the months leading up to her disappearance. She was also seeing a “new ‘boyfriend’” who lived in Greensboro.

Vargas allegedly had a history of domestic violence with Arenas, according to the search warrant. Just months before Arenas disappeared, she filed a police report claiming that Vargas accused her of cheating, strangled her and locked her out of their home.

Arenas filed a domestic violence restraining order the next day, but it was canceled almost a month later.

Not long before her disappearance, Arenas visited her boyfriend in Greensboro for two days. During that time, Vargas allegedly attempted to call Arenas nearly 60 times. She did not answer his calls, the search warrant said.

A couple of days after her visit, Arenas’ boyfriend, as well as her family, stopped hearing from her, something they said hadn’t happened before.

Vargas was allegedly the last person to have contact with her.

Investigation into disappearance

Arenas’ boyfriend reported her missing after not hearing from her a week after she visited him because he knew of Vargas’ alleged violence towards her, the warrant said.

Vargas said that on the morning of Arenas’ disappearance, he picked up their kids outside the Eastway Lane home. He said he did not go inside the home, and that he had last texted Arenas that same morning.

However, the warrant said Vargas’ cell phone pinged off of a tower near the residence later in that afternoon.

The warrant also said that Vargas and Arenas had a chiropractor appointment that afternoon. Vargas made it to his appointment, Arenas did not.

Arenas’ last phone call to Vargas, and the last active cell phone ping, was at or near their Eastway Lane home. The only other location transmitted from the phone, the warrant said, was the next day at a public golf course in Greensboro.

Additionally, a search of Arenas’ Facebook account, which the warrant said she frequently used to communicate with friends and family, had been accessed multiple times since she went missing. Vargas told authorities he did not have access to her account.

The warrant said the account was accessed by four different IP addresses since she disappeared. Two of them belonged to Vargas at Eastway Lane, while the other two are pending.

Almost a year after Arenas disappeared, the warrant said, someone accessed her Facebook account from one of the IP addresses that matched the one that also logged into Vargas’ account. That person removed 13 of Arenas’ Facebook friends, who appeared to be members of her family.

Additional probable cause

Vargas had moved out of the Eastway Lane home, which Vargas and Arenas rented, a couple of weeks before her disappearance. Arenas’ vehicle, her only form of transportation, the warrant said, was still at their home after she disappeared.

After Arenas’ disappearance, Vargas moved back into the property, the search warrant said, and he drove her vehicle. The vehicle was sold in the spring of 2023, with a title search showing that someone signed for Arenas and the signatures did not match.

Vargas’ sister was the notary who signed off on the sale, the search warrant said.

The warrant also said a neighbor saw Vargas throw away Arenas’ belongings and had the carpeting replaced in the home.

The investigation continues

On Tuesday, Loftin said the case is being investigated as a missing persons case, and that the department is going to “utilize all resources” they have available.

He also said the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is “assisting” them in the investigation.

“There’s a lot of pieces to this that we’re looking at when we’re trying to make sure we don’t leave any stone unturned,” Loftin said. “We will make sure that we do what we can do to try to find the missing person.”

The investigation remains ongoing.