Man charged with murder of teacher ex after body found in burned-out car

Veronica Aguilar, 27, was found dead in the burned out trunk of a car in Lancaster, California (GoFundme)
Veronica Aguilar, 27, was found dead in the burned out trunk of a car in Lancaster, California (GoFundme)

The ex-boyfriend of an elementary school teacher whose body was found in the burned-out trunk of a car has been charged with her murder, authorities say.

Firefighters were called to an address in Lancaster, California, at around 8am on 20 December where they discovered the remains of UCLA graduate Veronica Aguilar, 27, inside a burning vehicle in the garage, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said.

Homeowner Matthew Switalski, 37, was identified as a person of interest and arrested in Kern County, 70 miles north of Los Angeles, two days later. He is being held on $10m bail, jail records show.

According to a LinkedIn profile, Mr Switalski had worked as a programme, cost and schedule controller at defense contractor Northrop Goodman since 2010.

Jail records also revealed that he was arrested in May 2023 and charged with the rape and sexual assault of a woman he had been in a relationship with, according to The Los Angeles Times. He was released on $600,000 bail following his arraignment in June.

On 20 December, emergency crews responded to reports of a fire at Mr Switalski’s home on 38th Street West in the Quartz Hill neighbourhood after residents heard “blood curdling screams” coming from the address, KTLA reported.

Firefighters found thick smoke and flames coming from the garage, and extensive damage to the two-storey property.

Aguilar’s remains were found inside one of two vehicles that had been set alight, and she was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Her brother, Juan Aguilar, said his sister’s death just before Christmas was the “darkest of times” for the family in a GoFundme page set up to raise money for her funeral.

“Things will never be the same ever again,” Juan Aguilar wrote.

“We miss her so much. She had the best spirit she always had a smile. My family is heartbroken,” he added.

The mother of one of Aguilar’s students commented that she was the “sweetest teacher in the world”.

The LA Sheriff’s Department said it was working to determine the circumstances of Aguilar’s death and asked for help from the public.

Anyone with information is asked to call its Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Anonymous tips can be made to “Crime Stoppers” at 800-222-8477 or online at