PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The man suspected of murdering his girlfriend and leaving her body in Powell Butte Nature Park in Portland was arrested Friday in Southern Oregon after he was caught breaking into a home in Central Point, according to a probable cause affidavit. 

The document, which was filed Friday by the Central Point Police Department, said that a homeowner discovered 43-year-old Jose Antonio Caraballo inside his house unexpectedly on Friday. The homeowner said he saw Caraballo holding a knife before the suspect fled the house on a bicycle, the probable cause affidavit said. 

Kathryn Muhlbach was found deceased at Portland's Powell Butte Nature Park on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022
Kathryn Muhlbach was found deceased at Portland’s Powell Butte Nature Park on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022 (Courtesy: Muhlbach’s family).

Police tracked down Caraballo and arrested him shortly after the homeowner reported the burglary. That’s when investigators discovered Caraballo was wanted in Multnomah County as a suspect in the murder of Kathryn Muhlbach. 

When he was arrested in Central Point, officers found Caraballo in possession of silver coins, jewelry, a knife, a bicycle and clothing that police said he stole from the home he was accused of burglarizing. 

According to the probable cause affidavit, the homeowner told police the coins were collectors items and were worth at least several thousand dollars. 

Caraballo told officers he had been at the house for approximately seven days, according to the probable cause affidavit. The homeowner told police he expected his house to be empty when he arrived at the property Friday to put some items in the house. He was surprised to find the suspect inside, the probable cause affidavit said. 

Caraballo appeared in Jackson County court Tuesday for an arraignment on charges related to the burglary. The charges include first-degree burglary, first-degree theft, unlawful use of a weapon and menacing. 

He has not yet appeared in Multnomah County court for the murder charge he faces. 

Muhlbach was 27 when she died. Her body was discovered on December 9. A medical examiner determined her death was due to homicidal violence. 

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Muhlbach’s family said:

“Kathryn was an amazing mother, she was loved by everyone she met, she had an amazing fiery personality, she was a strong and independent woman. She was the person you would always lean on, in a time of need. She was the rock of our family.”