SALT LAKE CITY -- The body of a woman found stuffed in a suitcase and tossed along the side of I-80 in Salt Lake County could be connected to a missing person case out of Nevada.
“It’s believed that she was out there anywhere from several weeks, several months. There was a time period out there, she was badly decomposed,” said Lt. Justin Hoyal of Unified Police Department.
But some elements found on the body could make the victim easier to identify. According to Hoyal, the woman had a mastectomy to the right breast and a pink breast cancer ribbon tattoo on the left wrist.
Both match the description of Susana Villalvazo, 46, who has been missing from Las Vegas since November 2014.
“This is a lead we just recently received, and it’s something that we’re going to continue to follow-up on,” Hoyal said. “Our detectives just learned of this.”
But search crews in Nevada said the discovery in Utah confirms their worst fears.
“He took her to Utah. That was always our feeling, and well we have our answer now, don’t we,” said Commander Dave Cummings of Red Rock Search and Rescue.
The group had been assisting the family with independent searches since Villalvazo first disappeared.
The ‘he’ Cummings referred to is Villalvazo’s stepfather, whom has long been suspected of killing her, before dumping the body and then taking his own life.
“He had murdered her, put her into a suitcase, wrapped it in plastic and people could see him struggling to put it into the back of a car,” Cummings said. “Then, he just went straight to the [I-15] and headed for Salt Lake City.”
According to Hoyal, Unified Police is currently working with Las Vegas authorities. However, he said it could be weeks before they confirm their victim’s identity.
But for many, this puts an end to the mystery surrounding Villalvazo.
“We’re pleased that the family now has an answer,” Cummings said. “They have an answer and now they can begin the process of closure, however that works for them.”