Update: 6th person arrested in connection with disappearance of Kearns woman

Cristian Morales
Cristian Morales. Photo: Salt Lake County Jail

KEARNS, Utah, March 26, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A sixth suspect has been arrested in connection with disappearance of Conzuelo “Nicole” Solorio-Romero, the 25-year-old Kearns woman believed to have been abducted and killed in early February.

A probable cause statement filed in 3rd District Court of Salt Lake County said Cristian Noe Morales-Gonzales, 26, aka “The Mechanic,” is facing a charge of obstruction of justice, a first-degree felony.

Investigators say Morales-Gonzales has been implicated in the Feb. 6 kidnapping and suspected murder of Solorio-Romero, 25, who was allegedly forced from her home in Kearns and taken to a West Valley City studio apartment where she was shot and killed.

Police say Morales-Gonzales played a role in disposing of Solorio-Romero’s body, based on alleged witness statements, as well as surveillance video obtained by investigators.

Five other suspects have been charged in the case, including a West Valley City restaurant owner.

According to court documents, Carolina Marquez, 38, her son, Fernando Marquez, 22, and another man, Ivan Jesus Acosta, 27, were taken into custody Tuesday, the same day search warrants were executed a three different locations around the Salt Lake Valley.

The affidavit states Carolina Marquez, owner of Tacos Mi Caramelo, near 1800 W. 3500 South, along with son, Fernando, were present at a West Valley City apartment when Solorio-Romero was killed after being kidnapped near her home at 5133 W. 5400 South on February 6.

Investigators believe Solorio-Romero was abducted by two suspects, identified as Orlando Esiesa Tobar, aka “Chaparro,” 29, from Honduras, and Jorge Rafael Medina, 21, aka “The Venezuelan.” The men were taken into custody Feb. 16 and ordered held without bail on first degree kidnapping and murder charges. They have also been charged with obstruction of justice.

Nicole Solorio-Romero (inset) is shown with a surveillance camera image of her kidnapping. Photos: Unified Police Department

Investigators say once Solorio-Romero was taken into the apartment at 1136 W. Elba Ave. witnesses indicate she was questioned by Tobar, who asked her what she had told police which led to “one of his closest associates being arrested and taken into federal custody.” The probable cause statement says “Nicole denied talking to police,” before stating her husband, who had died last year, “did not commit suicide as the witnesses believed,” but had been murdered by Chaparro and Medina.

Witnesses told investigators Chaparro responded by saying Nicole “knew too much, and that she was not going to leave that apartment.”

Medina then allegedly “shot Nicole in the back of the head,” the court document said.

According to witness statements, including those of a “known confidential source,” those who were at the alleged murder went to Carolina Marquez’s restaurant after the shooting “where Chaparro called someone known as ‘”The Mechanic” to assist him with disposing of Nicole’s body.”

Surveillance video from the restaurant seized by police allegedly shows Chaparro getting into a red Mitsubishi Eclipse and leaving the premises.

Investigators say suspect Ivan Acosta told them, “Carolina, Fernando, Chaparro, Jorge, and Cristian returned to the residence and Carolina began cleaning up the remainder of the blood. Ivan stated Chaparro and Cristian left in a white truck with a trailer to go get rid of Nicole’s body” which police say had been removed from the apartment earlier.

Wednesday, an investigator for the District Attorney’s office located the Mistubishi Eclipse at 4861 S. 4055 West.

“Contact was made at the residence with Cristian Morales-Gonzales who stated he drives the vehicle,” police said. “A six pack line-up was conducted” where the suspect Acosta allegedly identified Cristian as being “the mechanic” and “helping Chaparro (Tobar) dispose of Nicole’s remains.”

Thursday night, and into Friday morning, investigators from the Unified Police Department and other agencies were seen processing an apparent crime scene on State Route 73 approximately 20 miles south of Stockton.

UPD public information officer Sgt. Melody Cutler told Gephardt Daily the investigation was being handled by the Salt Lake County District Attorneys Office. A spokesman for the DA’s office said all they could say was the case was an ongoing investigation.

There’s been no word on what may have been found at the site of the search on SR-73.

Top, from left: From left: Cristian Morales, Carolina Marquez, Fernando Marquez. Bottom from left: Ivan Jesus Acosta, Jorge Medina and Orlando Tobar. Photos: Salt Lake County

The initial charges filed so far are:

  • Morales: obstruction of justice, a first-degree felony
  • Carolina Marquez: Murder, a first degree felony; kidnapping, a second-degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony
  • Fernando Marquez: Murder, a first degree felony; kidnapping, a second-degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony
  • Acosta: Kidnapping, a second-degree felony; obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony
  • Medina: Aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony; aggravated murder, a first-degree felony
  • Tobar: Aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony; aggravated murder, a first-degree felony

All six are being held without bail.

Gephardt Daily will update the story as more information becomes available.

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