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Calif. suspect in woman’s slaying found hanging in jail cell

Ronald Wayne Paoletto, a registered sex offender, faced a murder charge

By Gene Ghiotto
The Press Enterprise

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — The man charged with murder in the death of a Lake Elsinore woman was found hanged in his jail cell at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said.

Ronald Wayne Paoletto, 41, was founded hanged on his bunk about 7 a.m. Monday by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies delivering breakfast to inmates, sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.

Paoletto was being held in a two-man cell but was living in the cell alone, she said.

Sheriff’s homicide detectives were called to investigate.

“They found nothing suspicious,” Bachman said.

Paoletto, a registered sex offender, faced a murder charge in connection with the death of Tanya Marie Petro, 33, of Lake Elsinore.

He had pleaded not guilty to murder in January, San Bernardino County court records show.

Petro was last seen Jan. 4 when she was supposed to have gone with Paoletto to Yucca Valley to pick up his children.

Paoletto, who was alone when he arrived in Yucca Valley, told his family that he and Petro had an argument along the way and he dropped her off somewhere.

Petro’s body was found about a week later in Vans Ranch Pipe Canyon Wash in Landers.

Paoletto was arrested in Hesperia on suspicion of violating the sex offender registration requirements.

Petro had two young children who had been visiting their father in Arizona.

Petro was supposed to pick them up the week she disappeared but never showed up or called, Riverside County sheriff’s officials said at the time.

Paoletto had been convicted of lewd acts with a child under the age of 14, according to the Megan’s Law online database of registered sex offenders.

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