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Orem man arrested, accused of killing girlfriend

An Orem man was arrested early Tuesday for investigation of murder in the death of his girlfriend.

An Orem man was arrested early Tuesday for investigation of murder in the death of his girlfriend. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

OREM — An Orem man was arrested early Tuesday after police say he killed his girlfriend.

Luis Manuel Vargas Lopez, 27, was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of murder, obstruction of justice and domestic violence in the presence of a child.

The investigation began about 8:30 p.m. Monday when emergency crews were called to 1079 N. 185 West, on a report of a woman who was unconscious and not breathing.

"Officers arrived on-scene and began life-saving measures on the victim. Officers immediately noticed significant injuries to her face and a puncture wound above her left eyebrow," according to a police booking affidavit.

The woman, whose name has not yet been released, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her boyfriend, Vargas Lopez, and another man were present and spoke with police. Vargas Lopez and the victim had been together about six years and have two children, police said.

Vargas Lopez said he and his girlfriend had gotten into an argument earlier in the day and he left the residence. When he returned later, he found her "slumped over in a chair next to a bottle of floor cleaner," the affidavit states.

But detectives recovered video from a nearby doorbell camera that showed Vargas Lopez only left the residence for 12 minutes, and not hours as he had claimed, according to the arrest report.

The friend told investigators that Vargas Lopez had called him about 8:20 p.m., saying he needed help.

"He could overhear Luis telling the victim to keep breathing," according to the affidavit. "He found Luis performing CPR on the victim and Luis asked to switch out because he was getting tired. The friend told investigators that he recognized that she had been dead for some time and he refused to assist. The friend instead took the two children out of the house and called emergency dispatch."

When detectives took Vargas Lopez back to the police station for further questioning, he again claimed that he attempted to save his girlfriend after he found her unconscious, implying she may have harmed herself, the affidavit says. Investigators, however, pressed him on his story, saying that "some of it did not make sense, or line up with other evidence."

Police noted that both of the victim's eyes were swollen and bruised, though Vargas Lopez claimed it was because she punched herself in the face, the affidavit alleges, adding that Vargas Lopez finally admitted to detectives that the two had gotten into an argument earlier in the day.

Based on the state of the woman's body, police estimated she had been dead since about 4 p.m., or about 4 1/2 hours before Vargas Lopez's friend called 911. Lopez was arrested and booked into jail after being questioned by police.

Domestic violence resources

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting:

Utah Domestic Violence Coalition: Utah's confidential statewide, 24-hour domestic violence hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465)

YWCA Women in Jeopardy program: 801-537-8600

Utah's statewide child abuse and neglect hotline: 1-855-323-DCFS (3237)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021 after many years of reporting for the Deseret News

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