This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A Utah man has been charged with allegedly killing a West Valley City woman, whose body was found on the side of a Colorado freeway in August.
Francisco Jesus Huerta-Martinez, 34, was charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with the first-degree felony murder for the death of 32-year-old Maria Astorga-Chavez in August. Huerta-Martinez was also charged with first-degree felony aggravated robbery and second-degree felony obstructing justice.
Also Wednesday, a warrant was issued Huerta-Martinez's arrest, with bail set at $1 million, cash only. As of Aug. 10, officers believe he had boarded a bus to Queretaro, Mexico.
On Aug. 6, Astorga-Chavez dropped her son off at her sister's Salt Lake County home, with the understanding that she would pick him up the next morning.
Astorga-Chavez then left in a white Ford Expedition with Huerta-Martinez, according to the charges.
At 10:19 p.m. that night, Astorga-Chavez talked to her cousin over the phone, and was still with Huerta-Martinez, the charges add. She also left a message with her cousin at 1:09 a.m. the next morning, Aug. 7.
But Astorga-Chavez never arrived to pick up her son.
On Aug. 9, Huerta-Martinez allegedly met a friend in Fort Worth, Texas, and "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," according to the charges.
"Huerta-Martinez also said that he planned to travel to Mexico," the charges read. "Officers located a bus manifesto and found Huerta-Martinez had boarded a bus to Queretaro, Mexico on [Aug. 10]."
On Aug. 16, a transportation worker found Astorga-Chavez's body, wrapped in a green comforter and a Calvin Klein comforter, along Interstate 70 in Summit County, Colo. A Colorado medical examiner later determined that she was strangled.
Astorga-Chavez's body was also missing several rings that she was known to wear, the charges add.
Officers searched Huerta-Martinez's Salt Lake County home and found a bag that displayed a picture of a green comforter, a bag for a Calvin Klein comforter, and a picture of Huerta-Martinez in his room that shows a green comforter on his bed, according to the charges. But during the search, officers allegedly did not find bedding on Huerta-Martinez's mattress.
Officers also reportedly found a clothes iron with its cord cut off. A cord that was tied around Astorga-Chavez's body was "similar to the portion of the cord remaining on the clothing iron," according to the charges.
A search of Utah court records show no other criminal history for Huerta-Martinez.