The man Barstow Police thought was involved in the January
disappearance of a local single mother was arrested in Redlands and
faces murder charges in the case, even though the woman has yet to be
found.

Jeami R. Chiapulis was arrested by Barstow Police detectives at a
Starlite Motel in Redlands at about 6:30 p.m. on Friday, according to a
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department report. Police believe
that the married 36-year-old Helendale resident carried on a romantic
relationship with Hurst, 30, and several other women over the same time.

Leisa Hurst went missing on Jan. 22, when her car was discovered in
Hesperia with its windows down and key still in the ignition. She is
still missing. Hurst has a 12-year-old and 8-year-old daughter.

Police can still charge a suspect with murder if the victim's body is not found, according to Barstow Police Sgt. Mike Hunter.

"It's not a requirement to have the body if enough compelling
evidence outside of the body is found that links the suspect to that
murder," said Hunter. "Charging murder without a body doesn't happen
often but can be done if the circumstances are right."

Two searches of Chiapulis' home by Barstow Police after Hurst went
missing led investigators to believe that he was somehow connected to
her disappearance, but they were unable to find enough evidence to name
him as a suspect then, Det. Keith Libby said at the time.

Chiapulis had checked himself the psychiatric ward of an
unidentified hospital on Jan. 26. Libby had said that Chiapulis was
still a patient there last week.

Hurst's family organized a community search party on Feb. 7 in
Helendale where about 175 volunteers, including friends, volunteers
from missing persons organizations and off-duty police officers. Heavy
rainfall forced them to cut the event short and volunteers were unable
to find any evidence. Trinity Search and Recovery will manage the next
search party, to be held on Saturday.

Chiapulis is being held at West Valley Detention Center without
bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Barstow on Wednesday for
suspicion of murder.

CONTACT THE WRITER:
(760) 256-4126 or cnguyen@desertdispatch.com