Two men were charged with murder Thursday in connection with the disappearance of a firefighter from West Covina whose remains were apparently burned after he was killed during a robbery, authorities said.
Elijah Rouse, 18, Shaun Cardarelli, 36, each face one count of murder along with special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission a robbery, and that they used a knife in the killing, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
They appeared Thursday in a Pomona courtroom, where their arraignments were continued to Sept. 24.
If convicted, Rouse and Cardarelli face the possibility of the death penalty or a life in prison without parole. Prosecutors will decide at a later date whether to seek capital punishment.
The two are suspected of killing 28-year-old John Brian Mananghaya Aguila on Aug. 22, the same day he disappeared, prosecutors said.
He was last seen leaving his girlfriend’s house in La Puente around 4:30 p.m., according to the West Covina Police Department.
Aguila was reported missing after he failed to return home and never showed up to his job as a part-time firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management.
Evidence recovered during a SWAT team search of Rouse’s residence in La Verne on Tuesday morning led investigators to believe that Aguila’s disappearance is connected to a burned body found in Upland last Friday.
Authorities have not positively identified the remains as those of Aguila, according to West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez.
“We don’t know positively that it’s connected, but we’re looking in that direction,” Lopez said Wednesday.
Aguila’s white 2017 Honda Civic was found abandoned in a residential area of San Dimas one day after he vanished. His car was searched, and gloves and bloody clothes were found in the trunk, police said.
Investigators later found a surveillance video that captured a man who is not Aguila walking away from the Honda.
Police have not confirmed whether that man is one of the two suspects.
KTLA’s Dianne Sanchez contributed to this story.