Nick Aaronson's body was discovered on Saturday in his Hilton hotel room in Mexico City, where he was on a layover.
Authorities said the 27-year-old's hands were tied behind his back, and it appears he was beaten and choked.
Aaronson's mother, Anita, said the FBI made an arrest in the case. Agents reportedly tracked down the suspect using the GPS on Aaronson's stolen cellphone.
Mexican police confirmed on Monday that they arrested 20-year-old Jose Manuel Ramirez for murder and robbery. They said Ramirez beat Aaronson and then strangled him with a belt. The suspect, who has a criminal record, was identified through surveillance video.
"We are devastated," Anita Aaronson said. "My oldest son Jason is on a plane flying down to Mexico City to bring Nick home."
Authorities said no drugs, weapons or messages were found in Aaronson's hotel room.
An autopsy was planned to determine exactly how he died.
Aaronson worked as a flight attendant for about six years. He was based out of Phoenix, Ariz., but grew up in West Covina. His mother still lives there. The news has left people in his old neighborhood shocked.
"He was just a down-to-earth, all-around good kid. He was still a kid to us in our eyes. He was a nice person," said Ruth Magallanes of West Covina.
The president of the Association of Flight Attendants Council 66 said Aaronson was very popular and loved among his coworkers.
The union said there doesn't appear to be a security breach at the hotel, but as a precautionary measure, all crew members will not be staying there while on layovers.