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Fugitive charged with 2015 killing of West Valley woman arrested

Photos of Maria Maricela Astorga-Chavez, left, and Francisco Jesus Huerta-Martinez, right, released to media in 2015. Huerta-Martinez, who is charged with murder in Astorga-Chavez's death, was booked into Salt Lake County Jail Saturday after seven years on the run.

Photos of Maria Maricela Astorga-Chavez, left, and Francisco Jesus Huerta-Martinez, right, released to media in 2015. Huerta-Martinez, who is charged with murder in Astorga-Chavez's death, was booked into Salt Lake County Jail Saturday after seven years on the run. (West Valley police)


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WEST VALLEY CITY — A man who was charged with murder in the killing of a West Valley woman in 2015 has been arrested after seven years on the run.

Francisco Jesus Huerta-Martinez, 41, was booked into Salt Lake County Jail Saturday, according to jail records.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office filed an arrest warrant for Huerta-Martinez in October 2015, charging him with murder, a first-degree felony, in the death of 32-year-old Maria Maricela Astorga-Chavez. Her body was discovered in Colorado in August 2015, a little more than a week after she was reported missing out of West Valley City.

Astorga-Chavez was last seen on Aug. 6, 2015, after getting into a vehicle that Huerta-Martinez was driving, according to charging documents. Huerta-Martinez also met up with a friend in Texas three days later, where he told the friend he had "strangled a person to death, wrapped the body in a blanket and dumped the body off the side of the road in the mountains of Colorado," the charges state.

Prosecutors said in October 2015 that they believed Huerta-Martinez, who was 34 at the time he was charged, killed Astorga-Chavez in West Valley City within a few days of her being last seen and then left her body on the side of I-70 in Summit County, Colorado. They also believe Huerta-Martinez had fled to Mexico, as he boarded a bus from Texas to Queretaro, Mexico on Aug. 10, 2015.

Details about how he was located or arrested were not made available Sunday.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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