Boy, 16, charged with murdering woman who confronted him about racial slurs

The Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City.

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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MURRAY — A 16-year-old Midvale boy was charged as an adult Thursday with stabbing a woman to death after she told him to stop using racial slurs.

Izaak Joseph Vijil is charged in 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony; two counts of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony; and committing a violent offense in front of a child, a class B misdemeanor.

About 6 p.m. on April 22, Vijil was standing in a parking lot at 4439 S. Brick Oven Way (170 West) with a group of other teens and was "making racial slurs," according to charging documents.

Witnesses stated on social media that Vijil was directing his comments to a family of color at an apartment complex.

Melissa Wood, 34, who also lived at the complex and was outside playing with children at the time, heard what was going on and confronted Vijil.

"She told him that he was being disrespectful," the charges state.

Vijil argued with Wood and told her to "get out of his face or he was going to slap her," according to the charges. He then allegedly approached Wood and appeared to punch her in the chest, but witnesses "then realized she had been stabbed after she had collapsed and was bleeding."

Wood was taken to a local hospital where she died a short time later. An autopsy determined that she was stabbed six times.

Police later obtained a message that Vijil sent on Snapchat shortly after the incident stating, "I need a ride out of state ASAP" while also stating he wasn't going to be locked up for this, the charges state.

Prosecutors have requested that Vijil be held without bail.

"Melissa died standing up for equality and everything she believed in," Kelsey Robertson posted on Facebook shortly after her friend's death. "Melissa died doing the right thing. She lost her life to put an end to racism and inequality."

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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