Murder, kidnapping charges filed in Kearns woman’s disappearance; more suspects may be outstanding

(L-R) Orlando Tobar and Jorge Medina. Photos: Unified Police Department

KEARNS, Utah, Feb. 16, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Two men have been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in the disappearance of a Kearns woman forcibly taken from her home on Feb. 6. She has not been seen since.

The suspects charged in the case are Orlando Esiesa Tobar, 29, from Honduras, and Jorge Rafael Medina, 21, from Venezuela. Both were booked into jail on Tuesday, and both are being held without bail. It is not clear at this time what the relationship between the two men and the victim was.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said in a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday that the body of Kearns woman Conzuelo “Nicole” Solorio-Romero, 25, has not been located. Rivera said police believe Solorio-Romano was taken from outside her Kearns residence in a green Toyota, and was believed to have been transported to a West Valley City home, where she was shot and murdered. Rivera said it is believed her body was then taken from that home to a location officials do not yet know. It is not clear who lives at the home in West Valley City.

Rivera said officials are not yet discussing some of the evidence obtained in order to protect the case.

She said it is believed there may have been more individuals involved with the incident, and officials are determined to locate and apprehend everyone involved.

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

A probable cause statement filed in Tobar’s case said a female victim was taken from just outside her home in Kearns, forced into a Toyota, and was transported to a residence in West Valley City, witnesses said.

“Witnesses at the West Valley residence stated the victim was brought there by suspects only known as Chaparro and The Venezuelan,” the statement says. “Witnesses state that the victim was forced into the studio apartment by the two suspects. Two witnesses who were just outside the door to the studio apartment heard one gunshot just after they observed the victim being forced into the studio apartment by the two suspects. One witness stated that they observed the victim being shot in the head.”

The witness said it was unclear if it was Chaparro or The Venezuelan who fired the shot, the probable cause statement said. One witness stated Chaparro told them if they spoke to anyone “they would have to kill them too.”

“Through investigation, Chaparro was identified as Orlando Tobar and The Venezuelan was identified as Jorge Medina.”

A search warrant served at the West Valley City address revealed substantial blood evidence, the statement said, and evidence to suggest an attempted cleanup.

Tobar, post Miranda, told detectives that he and Medina picked up the victim in Kearns using a Toyota owned by Medina, and that the victim went willingly, his probable cause statement says. Tobar also said people at the West Valley City apartment were arguing, so he walked away and heard a shot fired.

“Orlando said Jorge handed him a black pistol and told him to hold onto it,” the statement says. “Eventually Orlando gave the pistol back to Jorge before leaving the West Valley address.”

Tobar said that about three days prior to Tuesday’s interview, Medina came to his Midvale apartment and gave him a bag containing a black pistol. Tobar said he does not know the location of the victim.

The statement says that Medina also agreed, post Miranda, to speak with investigators, and said he was at the West Valley City address between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m., and that “he and his vehicle never left.

“Jorge said he did not see or hear anything suspicious. Jorge has since given his green Toyota Camry back to the dealership. Jorge stated he does not know the victim and “only recognized her photo from the stories on the news.”

Search warrants served at residences that Tobar and Medina frequented or lived in turned up a black pistol of “the same caliber as the bullet located at the West Valley address,” the statement says.

“Detectives spoke to a known and identified involved party that stated they were forced at gunpoint to assist Orlando in moving a dead body that was covered in plastic from the studio apartment into a trailer. The trailer was attached to Orlando’s white pickup truck. Orlando then left the West Valley address with the body in the trailer alone.

“Orlando made life threats to the involved party and their family if the police were notified or if they talked about this incident.”

Officials have since located the white pickup truck.

Rivera said it is likely a second news conference will be held by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office once the charges against Tobar and Medina have been screened and approved.

“We are not giving up, we are going to continue to look for Nicole,” Rivera said. “Anybody that has any information, please continue to contact us at 801-743-7000. We want to make sure we are able to bring her home to her family as soon as possible.” Tips can be anonymous.

She said UPD is working with the U.S. Marshals Office, the FBI, West Valley City Police Department and Homeland Security on the case.

Gephardt Daily will update this developing story as more information becomes available.

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