Man fleeing South Dakota arrested in Utah after his vehicle gets stuck in mud, police find woman’s body

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Aug. 28 2021, Published 7:23 a.m. ET

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A man allegedly high on methamphetamine is suspected of fatally shooting a woman he thought was calling him a snitch as they drove together through Utah. He then got stuck in mud when attempting to dispose of her body, leading indirectly to his arrest, authorities alleged.

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On Aug. 22, David Manuel Mestas, 26, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was in a car with the shooting victim and two other people, Richard Anthony Sanchez, also 26, and 22-year-old Christina Zoey Ann Sanchez, both of Rapid City, KSL-TV reported, citing charging documents.

The female victim was seated in the front passenger seat when Mestas, who was in the back of the vehicle, shot her in the head, the documents state, noting the suspect and the Sanchezes then “drove to an out-of-the-way location in Juab County with the intention of disposing of the body.”

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The trio tried to leave after dumping the victim, but their vehicle got stuck in mud, so they allegedly “stuffed the body back into the vehicle through the trunk into the back seat of the car and covered the body with clothing, suitcases, and other items…” authorities claim in the documents.

A driver passing by helped pull the group’s vehicle from the mud without realizing there was a body in the back. Police, however, discovered the shooting victim after the suspect and his traveling companions headed to a gas station in Mona, Utah, and got into an altercation.

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Police responding to reports of the fight “searched the car and found three firearms, one of which was stolen,” as well as “methamphetamine, heroin, and numerous used syringes in the vehicle,” the charging documents allege.

According to an investigation detailed in the charges, Mestas was in Utah shortly after fleeing South Dakota for Las Vegas, Nevada, following the shooting of a man he believed may have assaulted his sister, the charges state.

According to the documents, Mestas allegedly hatched a plan to kill the South Dakota man but he shot at him twice and missed both times. An accomplice then allegedly critically injured the target after firing at him with a shotgun.

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Mestas allegedly told Utah detectives that leading up to the death of the woman in the vehicle he’d been “using methamphetamine heavily” and “kept hearing the others talk about him and making comments toward him.”

A police affidavit states Mestas “believed the female victim in particular was calling him a snitch” and said "he did not know why he did this” but “felt weird and thought it was maybe the drugs."

He faces a range of charges, including aggravated murder, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, obstructing justice, theft by receiving stolen property, abuse or desecration of a dead body, drug possession with prior convictions, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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The vehicle’s driver, Richard Sanchez, is accused of obstructing justice, theft by receiving stolen property, abuse or desecration of a dead body, possession of a weapon by a restricted person, drugs possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Christina Sanchez faces charges of theft by receiving stolen property, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, drug possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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