A man found hiding in a closet. A Google map search for a location in Iowa. Phone calls from the Salt Lake County Jail.
New court documents contain added new twists in the already complicated case involving the killing of 25-year-old Conzuelo “Nicole” Solorio-Romero, who prosecutors say was kidnapped from her home in Kearns, murdered at another location, then dumped at a third location that has yet to be disclosed.
Six people have been charged in connection with her death: Carolina Marquez, 38, of Salt Lake City; her son Fernando Marquez, 22, of Kearns; Cristian Noe Morales-Gonzales, 26, address unknown; Ivan Jesus Acosta, 27, of Salt Lake City; Orlando Esiesa Tobar, 29, from Honduras; and Jorge Rafael Medina-Reyes, 21, address unknown.
Solorio-Romero was forcibly taken from her home at 5133 W. 5400 South at gunpoint on Feb. 6 by Tobar and Medina, charging documents allege.
Fernando Marquez lives in the same house in an upstairs apartment, according to a recently unsealed search warrant affidavit, and told police he witnessed the woman being kidnapped. Before he was arrested, he told officers that Solorio-Romero was being taken to a residence in West Valley City. But when detectives pressed further, “Fernando was vague when describing how he knew Nicole was going to the address at 1136 W Elba Ave. It is suspected Fernando is withholding information to protect himself,” the warrant states.
An undisclosed witness later told police that “they were on the phone with Nicole who stated Fernando held a gun to her head telling her to leave the residence prior to (Medina) and (Tobar) kidnapping Nicole,” according to the affidavit.
After first being driven to Wyoming to “kill time,” Solorio-Romero was taken to a house at 1136 W Elba Ave, which is owned by Carolina Marquez, police say. The house has also “been identified as having ties to (the) Mexican cartel. This has been confirmed by West Valley police, Homeland Security, and State Bureau of Investigations,” the warrant states.
On Feb. 9, Carolina Marquez called police to say someone was trying to break into a residence at 402 N. 1400 West and that her children were inside, according to the warrant. When police arrived, they found Solorio-Romero’s sister and another man. They told officers that “they were looking for Nicole Romero, and thought they heard screaming coming from inside the home and began banging on the door.”
Police received permission from the homeowner to search the residence. Inside, they “came across a male hiding in a closet with a sheet hiding his face,” the warrant says.
Caleb Abisay Vela, 27, was taken into custody on outstanding warrants. Police believe Vela was in the house where Solorio-Romero was killed at the time of the shooting, according to the warrant.
While police were questioning Vela, he received a message on Facebook Messenger from Tobar, the affidavit states.
“Due to the exigency of the case, Caleb’s cellphone was searched, and information was developed that Caleb’s Google maps recent search history showed two locations in Wyoming, including ‘gas stations near me’ and ‘Elk Mountain Wyoming.’ The historical search also showed a search for Des Moines, Iowa. No dates were located as to when the initial search was conducted.” According to the warrant, after Solorio-Romero was killed, police developed information that the people who took her body may have been headed to Iowa.
On Feb. 10, Vela placed several calls from the Salt Lake County Jail to an unknown woman. The calls were recorded, per jail policy.
“Over the course of several conversations, the unknown female discusses Ivan Acosta with Caleb and made the statement, ‘We checked the cameras and they were not following me when we picked up the boss lady. But Ivan ... does not know how and then he ratted us out,’” the warrant states.
Vela was convicted of aggravated assault on March 9 for an unrelated incident and was to be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be deported, court records indicate.
Acosta, who is being held in the Summit County Jail, is charged with obstructing justice and abuse or desecration of a dead bod. He was scheduled to have a detention hearing Friday, but it was postponed until next week. Acosta is listed in the warrant as being Carolina Marquez’s boyfriend.
Police questioned Carolina Marquez before her arrest and said she “provided minimal details about what occurred, claiming her and her family would be killed.”
On March 12, police received a tip that “Carolina was burning a blanket relating to the murder of Nicole Romero,” the warrant states.
Officers responded back to the home where Solorio-Romero was kidnapped from after learning Carolina Marquez had been living there for the past three weeks, according to the warrant.