SAN JOSE -- Investigators are hoping the public will help them track a fleeing man they say "brutally murdered" his ex-girlfriend in a San Jose motel Wednesday and may be headed for Mexico, the San Jose Police Department said.

Julio Pliego, 43, of San Jose, is considered armed and dangerous and has been linked to the killing of 35-year-old Veronica Lozano, also of San Jose. Lozano was found dead in a room at the Holiday Inn Express motel on Monterey Road near Oak Hill cemetery.

An employee at the motel found Lozano's body about 1:20 p.m., and responding officers found one of the worse murder scenes the department could recall, according to a police source.

Julio Pliego
Julio Pliego ( San Jose Police Department )

Officer Albert Morales said Lozano suffered from "extensive injuries to the upper torso and head area," but declined to release further detail about how she was killed.

Morales said Pliego and Lozano once dated and that the homicide, the city's 15th of the year, is being characterized as a domestic violence killing.

Police said Pliego might be driving a 1997 Nissan van with a California license plate 6ZQD210.

They also said Lozano's white 1996 Chevrolet Suburban, license plate 3RWR194, is missing.

Anyone with information about Pliego's whereabouts or those of the missing vehicles are urged to call 911 or contact Detective Sgt. Merlin Newton or Detective J.J. Vallejo at 408-277-5283 or leave a tip with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-STOP (7867) or with svcrimestoppers.org.

Check back later for updates to this story.

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.