Murder in the Heartland is in Montrose, Colorado, to investigate the mysterious murder of Irene Trujillo, who was found encased in concrete at her own quarry two months after she’d gone missing.
This case saw Lionel Lopez charged and imprisoned with her murder; however, he was only sentenced to ten years in prison.
On June 16, 2003, Irene Trujillo’s body was discovered buried in a hole at the quarry she had co-owned with her estranged husband, Rick Trujillo. Rick had reported her missing to the police the previous April.
Irene had suffered a gunshot to the head. Her body had then been hacked up and set on fire before being encased in concrete in the hole. Her remains had been accidentally discovered by her former business partner, Robert Martinez, who had been trying to reconnect a water line.
Her husband Rick provoked some suspicion among the investigators. Before her disappearance, Irene had met with a divorce lawyer who had proposed a divorce property settlement, which would have bagged Irene the quarry along with 120 acres of land.
Multiple suspects in the murder of Irene Trujillo
The police had wondered if Rick had killed his estranged wife rather than go through a difficult divorce. And at one point, former business partner Martinez also became a suspect.
However, the focus of the investigation gradually began to settle on one of the quarry’s employees, Lionel Lopez. Lopez was known to be one of the last people to see Irene alive. A friend of Irene’s had met the pair in a nearby Walmart store when the victim had said she was buying ammunition for Lopez because she owed him money.
More worryingly, Irene and Lopez had been seen arguing shortly before her disappearance. Lopez was also known to have rented a hunting rifle at the time, which he returned after Irene had vanished.
What’s more, several witnesses later stated that he had confessed to shooting Irene somewhere “east of Montrose.”
Lopez had been caught breaking into Irene’s home several weeks after her murder, and he was already in custody when her remains were discovered. In 2006, he was indicted for her murder.
The prosecution’s problem was that they didn’t believe they had enough evidence to secure a conviction, so they offered Lopez a deal. In 2009, Lopez took an Alford Plea, where he admitted to being an accessory to first-degree murder on two counts. He was sentenced to just 10 years in prison.
More from Murder In The Heartland
Follow the links to read about more crimes examined on Murder in the Heartland.
Dylan Gilbertson beat his roommate Jaysen Greenwood to death in their shared apartment in Hibbing, Minnesota. He then had his two other roommates help him clean up the scene and dump the body in a mine pit.
Cole Pollard attacked his cousin’s fiance Patricia Richmond at her home in Steamboat Springs, CO. and choked her to death. Afterward, he attempted to sexually assault her corpse.
Murder In The Heartland airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.