Mother of woman found dead next to Millcreek dumpster speaks out

Jan 22, 2024, 7:55 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2024, 10:56 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The mother of a 25-year-old woman found murdered next to a Millcreek dumpster is speaking out about the domestic abuse her daughter allegedly suffered.

The body of 25-year-old Esperanza Chavez was discovered Saturday morning next to a dumpster near 3994 S. 300 West in Millcreek.

“Esperanza was very strong. For her to allow this to happen to her shocks me, but no woman allows this,” said Jontue Chavez, Esperanza’s mother.

To family and friends, Esperanza Chavez was known as “Espie.” Her mother is processing the horrific events that led to her murder, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend.

“This is the worst week of my life, it will be something that I think of every day and I’m going to miss her every day,” Jontue Chavez said.

According to the Unified Police Department, surveillance footage showed 46-year-old Fred Edwards trying to dispose of the victim’s body. Detectives say she was shot twice in the head.

“Within an hour, she was murdered and her body was dumped by the garbage,” Jontue Chavez said.

Court Documents paint a violent history for Edwards including physically assaulting the victim on Oct. 22, 2023.

According to Jontue Chavez, her daughter found the courage to leave Edwards two weeks ago, after he stabbed her in the arm.

Jontue Chavez said Espie Chavez got a protective order against Edwards, but the harassment continued, so family members were helping her move out of state to get away from Edwards.

Espie Chavez was planning to leave Sunday, but Friday night Edwards showed up at her aunt’s house, possibly under the pretext of returning some belongings.

“He was constantly calling her phone, all day… consistent contact, nonstop, nonstop, nonstop,” Jontue Chavez said. “I don’t know what he did to get her in the vehicle. I don’t know if he threatened her family that was in the house… I don’t know what the conversation was between them.”

According to Jontue Chavez, family members heard Edwards’ truck speed away around midnight. Unified police said surveillance footage captured “a black truck arriving at 12:28 a.m. The male figure was observed pulling a body from the vehicle. Attempts were made to dispose of the body in the dumpster, however, the suspect left the scene, leaving the victim beside the dumpster.”

In the press release issued on Saturday, Unified police said Edwards was arrested at the “University of Utah hospital where he was attempting to be evaluated.”

“How can you stab someone, how can you stab someone and just leave them there by a trash can like they are trash, how could you do that? And then for him to go to the hospital and say that’s he’s crazy and needs an evaluation, you knew exactly what you were doing. You’ve been doing it. You continue to do it and you knew you were getting away with it,” Jontue Chavez said.

According to Jontue Chavez, her daughter was not aware of Edwards owning a gun. Family members suspect that Edwards obtained the gun after Espie Chavez left him two weeks ago.

“It was absolutely a premeditated murder,” Jontue Chavez said. “He didn’t have gun before, he got a gun, he knew she was leaving. All day long, the day before she’s supposed to go, he makes sure he gets in touch with her for the last moment, gets her into that car and kills her within moments of being together. You can’t tell me he’s crazy.”

According to Jontue Chavez, her daughter showed signs of domestic violence from the start of her eight-month relationship with Edwards, but was reluctant to report the incidents because Edwards threatened to retaliate by killing her family.

Jontue Chavez said she called police on numerous occasions to report incidents she was aware of but without Espie Chavez’s cooperation, officers told her there was little they could legally do.

“I felt like my hands were tied and I don’t feel like any mother, any sister, anybody who is trying to support a domestic violence victim should feel like their hands are that tied,” Jontue Chavez said.

“I just think domestic violence (victims) need more options and more support. I know that some things have improved but if (victims) are so scared to report, there’s got to be a way that people can report on their behalf and still make something happen,” she said.

Jontue Chavez is pleading for those experiencing domestic violence to get help before it’s too late.

“Our children shouldn’t be taken from us, they shouldn’t be murdered in any way shape or form,” she said.

Edwards is facing multiple charges including murder, obstruction of justice, and abuse of a dead body.

A GoFundMe* account has been set up to help with funeral costs.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

Domestic violence resources

If you or someone you know is going through abuse, help is available.

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Mother of woman found dead next to Millcreek dumpster speaks out