KEARNS, Utah — Conzuelo “Nicole” Solorio-Romero’s face has become a common sight throughout Salt Lake County.
The 25-year-old Kearns woman was abducted Feb. 6 off the street outside her home. The missing woman’s photo, along with images of her kidnapping, was released to the public as detectives began investigating her abduction.
On Friday, nearly two months after her disappearance, authorities announced that Solorio-Romero’s remains have been recovered. Court records indicate that her body was found wrapped in black plastic garbage bags on March 26.
She was shot twice in the head, the documents allege. The location of her body was not released but KUTV in Salt Lake City reported that authorities spent time searching an area of rural Tooele County, off of State Route 73.
A total of six people have been charged in her death, including a Mexican restaurant owner accused of masterminding the plot. Solorio-Romero worked for Carolina Marquez at Tacos Mi Caramelo in West Valley City, a Salt Lake City suburb.
Marquez, 38, of Salt Lake City, and her son Fernando Marquez, 22, of Kearns, were charged Friday with murder, aggravated kidnapping and obstruction of justice, according to police and prosecutors.
The Deseret News reported that court records indicate Carolina Marquez may have ordered Solorio-Romero’s death because the younger woman owed her money.
A search of the restaurant turned up black trash bags similar to those used to wrap Solorio-Romero’s body, the newspaper reported.
Carolina Marquez and two other defendants, Ivan Jesus Acosta, 27, and Cristian Noe Morales-Gonzales, 26, were charged Friday with abuse or desecration of a human body, prosecutors said. Acosta and Morales-Gonzales were also charged with obstruction of justice.
Solorio-Romero’s alleged killers, Orlando Esiesa Tobar, 29, and Jorge Rafael Medina-Reyes, 21, were arrested Feb. 16 and charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated murder, according to the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake.
Before Solorio-Romero was slain, witnesses said Tobar put a knife to her throat and accused her of going to the police with information that led to one of his “associates” being arrested by federal agents, reported KUTV in Salt Lake City. Solorio-Romero denied the accusations.
The News reported that a confidential informant told police Carolina Marquez had been telling people one of her sons had been “set up by someone” and was in jail. It was unclear if Marquez’s son was the associate Tobar was referring to.
On the day of the abduction, Carolina Marquez was allegedly overheard on the phone “telling someone to take all of Nicole’s things out.” Her son, Fernando Marquez, was Solorio-Romero’s landlord, the newspaper reported.
While being held against her will, however, Solorio-Romero reportedly accused Tobar and Medina-Reyes of killing her husband, whose death had been declared a suicide.
The witnesses said Tobar moved his head to the side and Medina-Reyes, who was standing behind Solorio-Romero, fired a bullet into the back of her head. KUTV reported that the witnesses told police they ran from the apartment, after which they heard a second shot.
Tobar emerged with blood on his hands, the news station said. He told witnesses the first shot had not killed Solorio-Romero and he’d had to shoot her a second time, according to documents.
‘Don’t call the cops’
Solorio-Romero’s ordeal began with a frantic phone call to her sister the day she disappeared, according to her family.
“My little sister called me and she said, ‘Hey Jess, I’m at the mall and Nicole called me crying, saying some guys are trying to take her,’” a third sibling, Jessica McDonald, told KSL from her Illinois home. “I said, ‘OK, hang up and I’ll call the police.’”
McDonald called the police, who she said initially believed Solorio-Romero may have left on her own.
“Dispatch told me because she is an adult that she is allowed to leave and do whatever she wants, but I explained to them, ‘Well this is different, because she called and said she was being taken at gunpoint,’” McDonald said.
Juliana Bersamin, the sister who received the call from Solorio-Romero, told the News that Solorio-Romero told her three men with a gun were threatening her and forcing her out of the basement apartment the two sisters shared.
“I was just scared for her, because I had no idea why this was happening,” Bersamin told the News.
A short time later, Solorio-Romero called a cousin and asked for a ride.
“I’m OK, but who called the cops?” Solorio-Romero asked, according to her family. “Don’t call the cops.”
Bersamin said she believes her sister went outside, to the corner of 5400 South and Nez Perce Drive, to await a ride from Bersamin and their cousin, who were on their way to get her.
“My sister had said that ‘I’m at the corner,’” Bersamin said. “That’s the last thing I heard from her, because when I had gone back to the house there was no trace of her at all.”
Footage from a security camera on a house across the street appears to show Solorio-Romero being forced into a green Toyota Camry at 2:30 p.m., about 10 minutes after she’d first called her sister. Court documents allege she was taken at either gunpoint or knifepoint.
She ‘knew too much’
Court records obtained by the News allege that Solorio-Romero was abducted by two men known as Chaparro and the Venezuelan and taken to Marquez’s studio apartment in West Valley City. A witness at the home told police they saw one of the men shoot Solorio-Romero in the head.
The man known as Chaparro told the witnesses that anyone who went to police would also be killed. He also forced a witness at gunpoint to help move Solorio-Romero’s body from the apartment and onto an equipment trailer being towed by a landscaping truck.
“One witness stated the victim was loaded into the back of Chaparro’s vehicle and she was never seen again,” a probable cause affidavit states, according to the newspaper.
That vehicle, described by police as a white pickup truck with a snowplow on the front, was later recovered.
Detectives later learned that Tobar was known as Chaparro. Medina-Reyes was the man known as the Venezuelan.
Morales-Gonzales, known as the Mechanic, is accused of helping to dispose of Solorio-Romero’s body.
After his arrest in February, Tobar told detectives that Carolina Marquez ordered him and Medina-Reyes to grab Solorio-Romero because of the cash she owed Marquez. According to the News, Marquez told the men to “kill time” because she would be unavailable for a few hours.
The men, who were in Medina-Reyes’s Camry, drove the victim to the Wyoming border and back to waste time. Charging documents allege they eventually took her to Marquez’s apartment at 1136 W. Elba Ave. in West Valley City.
Carolina Marquez was present when Solorio-Romero was slain, court records state. Despite efforts to clean the crime scene, detectives later found “substantial blood evidence” in the apartment, the News reported.
Witnesses told detectives that as Solorio-Romero was quizzed about what she’d told authorities, Tobar said she “knew too much, and she was not going to leave that apartment,” according to court records.
After the shooting, the group went to Tacos Mi Caramelo to discuss their next steps, the newspaper reported. It was while they were at the restaurant that Tobar called Morales-Gonzales to help dispose of the victim’s body.
Fox 13 in Salt Lake City reported that affidavits allege that surveillance footage from the restaurant shows Carolina Marquez, Fernando Marquez, Tobar and Medina-Reyes meeting in Carolina Marquez’s office “for a period of time immediately after the shooting and before returning to the house to clean the scene.” Someone there also handed Tobar black trash bags before he left.
Hours later, as West Valley City police officers went to Solorio-Romero’s apartment for a welfare check, the Marquezes and Acosta were there, moving the young woman’s belongings from the apartment and locking the door, the news station said.
Police also recovered from Tobar’s home a .40-caliber Bersa handgun determined to be the same caliber as a bullet recovered from the apartment where Solorio-Romero died.
“The pistol had been soaked in a chemical that had started corroding the gun,” the charging documents allege. “Witnesses identified the pistol as the same gun used to shoot Nicole. It was later discovered the pistol had been reported stolen out of Vernal, Utah, one year prior.”