Female body found near Interstate 70 identified as missing Utah woman
Summit Daily News
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office identified a suspect after a Colorado Department of Transportation employee discovered a body off of Interstate 70 on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 1:30 p.m.
Summit County Sheriff John Minor said the body was found off of a dirt road near the highway, which is used as a turn-around for snowmobiles.
“Obviously, CDOT goes down there every once in a while,” Minor said.
Deputies secured the scene that day, identifying the body as a female, and started an investigation with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Summit County Coroner.
An autopsy on Thursday confirmed the woman’s identity as 32-year-old Maria Maricela Astorga-Chavez, a woman who was last seen in West Valley City, Utah. Family members said they saw her on Aug. 6, 2015, leaving with a man named Javier Huerta, known to use the name Jorge Martinez as well as other aliases. He is a suspect in the homicide investigation.
“We know they were acquaintances, but we don’t know anything past that,” Roxeanne Vainuku, a public information officer with the West Valley City Police Department said.
At a separate location, police located a white Ford Expedition that Huerta drove. The vehicle is secured and will be analyzed for evidence by the West Valley City Police Department; they did not release the location where the vehicle was discovered.
Vainuku added that the department was waiting for autopsy results to determine the manner and cause of death for Astorga-Chavez.
“We have enough evidence at this point to investigate that as a homicide,” she said.
Detectives from the West Valley City Police Department located a crime scene in West Valley City where they think Astorga-Chavez died. They believe her body was then transported and left in Colorado.
“We don’t know where (Huerta) is or what vehicle he is driving,” Vainuku said. “All we have are some good pictures of his face. We’re relying on the public to figure out where he might be.”
West Valley City Police will lead the investigation from this point forward. According to police, Huerta is 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighs 160 pounds, Anyone who has information about the crime or the suspect’s whereabouts may contact the West Valley City Police Department at 801-840-4000.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
“I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is,” said YouthZone Executive Director Lori Mueller. “This is an integral part of helping kids get back on the right track.”