clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

OFFICER 1ST CROSSED PATHS WITH CRIMINAL BACK IN '78

The call was just one of hundreds Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies were dealing with that Saturday morning in 1978.

Lt. Kevin Taylor was just a rookie patrol officer, but he was left in charge of his shift. A caller said someone tried to kidnap a young girl at 4100 W. 3500 South. Shorthanded, he sent a reserve officer.A short while later, the part-time deputy called him.

"He said, `I can't handle this,' " Taylor recalled. When Taylor arrived, they gave him a description of the man who'd tried to kidnap the girl. He apparently worked at a nearby fast-food restaurant and didn't bother changing out of his uniform before attacking the girl.

When they arrested him a few hours later, Taylor was thinking only that he was relieved to solve the case so quickly. He had no idea that this would be just his first encounter with what investigators and prosecutors have called one of the "scariest and sickest" criminals they've met.

It was Roberto V. Arguelles, who six days ago confessed to abducting and killing three teenage girls and a West Valley woman. Arguelles was just 17, but Taylor said when he went to court to testify against the boy, one of his supervisors, Dean Carr, told him it was imperative this boy be locked up.

"They said this is one sick so-and-so," Taylor said. "We need to lock him up."

They succeeded, but the juvenile facility he was sent to kept him only four months - until he turned 18.

Just four months later, he kidnapped and raped a 15-year-old girl. Three days after that he kidnapped another 15-year-old girl, raped her and then slashed her throat so badly she nearly died. Arguelles went to prison for those crimes and a judge recommended he never be paroled.

But he was. From June of 1991 to December of 1992, Arguelles was free. During that time, he was convicted of molesting two children at an elementary school. During that same time, he said he kidnapped and killed Lisa Martinez, 16, Tuesday Roberts, 15, Stephanie Blundell, 13, and Margo Bond, 42.

Taylor's reintroduction to Arguelles came when the sheriff assigned him to the multiagency task force that would look at and solve a number of mysterious killings and disappearances. Right after the group was formed, a prison inmate told an investigator that a cellmate had admitted to killing Margo Bond and Stephanie Blundell.

He told investigators that the two inmates had talked about trying to get money from Blundell's family for information about where her body was buried. Taylor said his information was good, but like many inmates, he was unreliable and too interested in gaining something for himself. While police quit using him as an informant, they didn't quit looking at the man he'd fingered.

It was Roberto Arguelles.

The case, Taylor said, was riveting.

"If you know Arguelles, you're interested in him," he said. Taylor said the task force worked furiously to find physical evidence to link Arguelles to the two killings. Then Arguelles started to talk to prison investigator Jenny Glover about two other missing girls - Lisa Martinez and Tuesday Roberts.

As the pieces fell slowly in place, Taylor said the doubt about what happened to those four women and who killed them evaporated for him. He was surprised, though, that Arguelles confessed Friday.

"My speculation," he said, "is that he doesn't like the idea of spending the rest of his life in prison."

The fact that he's in on a child sex abuse conviction is another thing Taylor thinks bothers Arguelles.

"They're never highly thought of," he said. Remorse is the one thing Taylor doesn't think prompted the 33-year-old man's confession.

"He's always had an angle," he said. "He's sitting there in prison, the most boring existence in the world. He's always been scheming to get out of prison."

Taylor said he's thrilled with the confessions and admits there was a time when he would have traded anything just to know where the girls were buried.

"I would have been happy with the bodies and the opportunity to come back to his parole hearing in 15 years," he said. "I could have been on vacation in Hawaii and I would have come back for that."

Does Arguelles deserve the death penalty?

"If he doesn't, who does?"