Woman detained, threatened by man she learned was a convicted killer

Aug 27, 2021, 1:22 PM | Updated: Aug 30, 2021, 3:00 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A woman is hoping a man she met will be taken off the streets after a six-week relationship turned into a nightmare with someone who had a far more sinister history than she knew.

Karen Cabral said the man showed high interest in her, and originally seemed personable — a “very charming Texan.”

The man, Cabral said, admitted to having a past.

“He said he got out of prison and I said, ‘what for,’ and he said, ‘robbery,’” the woman recalled.

Over time, Cabral said the man grew more controlling and abusive — throwing her, dragging her, choking her and threatening to kill her dog, Elvis, in the days that led up to the events now documented in a Salt Lake City police report from July 9.

On that day, the report obtained by KSL TV stated officers arrived at a Ramada Inn on North Temple to find Cabral bruised, crying and appearing “extremely scared.”

Cabral told KSL TV the man had coerced her into giving him $200 for drugs and then driving him around town to obtain and sell them.

“He said, ‘You don’t do what I say, that dog will be dead,’” Cabral recalled. “I was frightened to death of him.”

Eventually, Cabral said she found herself being held at knifepoint in her own car. She said the man turned ballistic when he found out his pipe was broken on the floor.

“He had us in the parking lot and he had a knife and it was a big one, 8 inches, they say, like a bowie knife,” Cabral said. “And he kept stabbing at my leg. My jeans were tight enough that it wouldn’t go through, but it hurt. I knew it was a sharp knife and he said, ‘You’re going to die tonight. You, Elvis and me — we’re all going to die by sunrise.’”

Cabral said she did what she could to de-escalate the situation, but the man kept jabbing at her leg, saying, “You’re going to die tonight and Elvis is going to go first so you can see it.”

When she was reaching around on the floor to find his pipe, she said she instead found a canister of pepper spray they had purchased the week before. She kept it concealed.

“He couldn’t see it,” Cabral said, noting that he wanted no light inside the car.

Finally, an opportunity came to escape.

“I could hear him gently snoring, just a little bit, to know that he had passed out finally,” Cabral described. “Something said to me now — I heard it as clear as day — ‘Now, go now.’ I opened the door — and it was open, he didn’t know how to use the child locks to lock me in. So I popped the door open and as I do, I had the pepper spray in my hand. He had taught me how to use it. He wakes up and I’m out the door and I just sprayed the heck out of his face with it.”

After Cabral fled, the man also apparently fled from the scene, taking Cabral’s car to a 7-Eleven and complaining he had been sprayed in the face with pepper spray, according to a call to dispatch from the store.

When officers arrived, the report said Cabral’s car was found with the keys missing and a flat front tire. The man was nowhere to be seen and it appears he has not been seen since.

Cabral said she was truly unnerved to subsequently learn what the man’s real criminal history was after finally googling his name.

He wasn’t a convicted robber — he was a convicted killer who not only did time related to a death in Utah but also was previously implicated in two deaths out of state.

“Oh no, I had no idea, not at all,” Cabral said. “That’s why he didn’t want me to look him up on the internet.”

KSL TV elected not to make the man’s name public yet since he has yet to be arrested or charged with a crime.

According to an email from a Salt Lake City Police Department official to KSL TV, the case was being screened by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.

A district attorney’s spokesperson on Thursday could not provide any further clarity about the status of the case.

Cabral said she has been grateful for the help she has received from a victim advocate but has not spoken to officers or detectives since the original contact outlined in the police report.

She hoped that police and prosecutors would be able to take action to get the man off the streets.

“You need to know it happened and people are in danger of this man and he doesn’t care if you’re a woman or a man — he’ll kill either one of you,” Cabral said. “He’s not safe on the street, not at all. Nobody’s safe around him.”

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Woman detained, threatened by man she learned was a convicted killer