South Dakota man admits to shooting woman found dead in Utah, authorities say

Local News

MONA, Utah (ABC4) – One of the two men arrested after a woman was found dead in a vehicle in central Utah has allegedly admitted to killing her. Both men are from South Dakota and are being held in the Juab County Jail.

Sunday afternoon, the Juab County Sheriff’s Office was called to a disturbance at a Mona gas station, located about 77 miles south of Salt Lake City. Deputies and officers from the Nephi Police Department arrived on the scene to find a woman dead in the trunk of a car, partially hidden under several bags and clothing. According to authorities, she had been shot.

Two people, David Manuel Mestas and Richard Anthony Sanchez, both 26-years-old, were taken into custody. According to court documents, Mestas was arrested for murder and abuse or desecration of a dead human body while Sanchez is accused of obstruction of justice and abuse or desecration of a dead human body.

When law enforcement arrived on scene, they say three people were taken into custody – Mestas, Sanchez, and a woman. They appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to investigators. According to authorities, the incident in Mona allegedly began in South Dakota.

The unidentified woman taken into custody, who is the sister of both suspects, allegedly told police she had been pistol-whipped in the face by a man in South Dakota several months ago. When one of the men arrested started hanging out with the victim, the woman began talking with her. According to authorities, both women knew each other.

The woman tells authorities she talked to the victim about being pistol-whipped. The victim reportedly told the woman she knew who had done it and told the man she knew what happened, even though the woman asked her not to tell him. The victim allegedly set the woman up with the man who pistol-whipped her. When the man arrived, a shooting took place and police say Mestas and Sanchez may have been involved.

After that incident, Mestas, Sanchez, and both women left South Dakota with plans to drive to Las Vegas. Before leaving, they stopped at a gun store and purchased firearms.

When speaking with one of the men arrested Sunday, authorities say he confessed to the homicide, saying he had been using methamphetamine heavily during the trip from South Dakota. During the ride, the man also says he heard the others talking about him. He tells investigators he believed the victim was calling him a snitch. That is when the man says he lifted the gun up and pointed it at her multiple times.

According to arresting documents, the man, presumably Mestas, says he “did not know why he did this” and admitted to pulling the trigger. He adds that he and the other man relocated the woman’s body to the rear of the vehicle and tried to hide her. Authorities say the other man arrested refused to speak with law enforcement.

The identities of both women have not been released.

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