Orem man arrested for murder of girlfriend with children in home
OREM, Utah — An Orem man was arrested after his girlfriend’s seemingly violent domestic-violence death that police say took place hours before anyone called 9-1-1 on Monday evening.
Luis Manuel Vargas Lopez, 27, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree felony murder, domestic violence in the presence of a child and obstruction of justice.
Police attempted life-saving measures on the victim, noticing “significant injuries to her face and a puncture wound above her left eyebrow,” according to an affidavit of probable cause court documents from Utah County. Emergency medical personnel arrived at a duplex on 185 West in Orem and pronounced the woman dead.
Police spoke with two men at the home, Lopez and a friend who called 911.
According to documents, Lopez told interviewers contradicting stories about how his girlfriend of six years, with whom he has two children, was injured and said he didn’t know how the injuries happened. He told investigators he had gone for a walk for more than three hours and returned to find the injured victim with a pulse and started chest compressions but did not call 911 for help.
Lopez said he tried to revive her with water and performed CPR and that she revived long enough to ask to speak with her children and give them a kiss. When told by investigators that parts of his story were contradictory or didn’t match other evidence “Luis changed what he was saying.”
He admitted he had not walked but had driven a vehicle to a gas station and then said the victim never regained consciousness or talked to him. A neighbor’s doorbell camera showed that he left his home around 2:30 p.m. and returned 12 minutes later and had not left home otherwise.
The suspect’s friend told police he spoke to Lopez at approximately 11 a.m. about a job in Pleasant Grove and then called him again around 2 p.m. because he had not shown up to the job.
He said Lopez called him at 8:22 p.m. requesting help. The friend arrived at the home six minutes later. When he went inside, he found Lopez performing CPR on the victim and asked the friend to switch out because he was tired.
“The friend told investigators that he recognized that she had been dead for some time and refused to assist,” court documents state. “The friend instead took the two children out of the house and called emergency dispatch.”
Police responded to the emergency call at approximately 8:29 p.m., documents state.
An investigator for the medical examiner arrived later and said the body was in a state of full rigor mortis. “This process takes around 12 hours to set in,” documents state.
The medical examiner investigator arrived at about 4 a.m. and put the time of death at approximately 4 p.m., 4.5 hours before the friend called emergency services when he arrived to help.
“The puncture wound on the head of the victim is believed to be part of a broken skull. When pressure was put on the wound, the entire area around it collapsed inward,” documents state.
Police said there was bruising on Lopez’ hands who claimed he hit them on the counter while moving the injured victim. Both of the victim’s eyes were swollen and bruised and Lopez said it was because the victim would punch herself in the face.
He did admit to police they argued on Monday but it had lasted just a few minutes and said the fight ended when the children were knocking on a door and Lopez said he left the residence.
Police requested Luis be held without bail since he was in the United States on a work visa, now expired, and it is believed he would flee if released.
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