Ex-worker charged in quarry owner’s slaying

Suspect in prison for burglarizing victim’s home (Montrose, Colorado) Three years after Irene Trujillo’s burned and dismembered remains were unearthed in the quarry she owned, an ex-employee in prison for burglarizing her home was indicted in her murder. Montrose District Attorney Tom Raynes said a grand jury indicted Lionel Lopez, 23, for first- and second-degree murder in the April 2003 shooting death of Trujillo, 47. Authorities in Montrose had been pressured steadily by Trujillo’s father, Rick Sungalia, a retired Arapahoe County sheriff’s investigator who lives in Littleton and who was frustrated that no arrests had been made in his daughter’s slaying. “We’re numb, really,” Sungalia said Tuesday night. “We’d almost given up.” Sungalia said he heard about the indictment from the attorney general’s office late Tuesday afternoon. “It’s been three years, 55 days, but who’s counting?” he said. Undersheriff Dick Deines said the department is “extremely pleased” by the indictment of Lopez, who was convicted of burglarizing Trujillo’s home after her disappearance. Deines said Trujillo’s estranged husband, Rick, was considered a suspect “at the start, and so were a lot of other people. But investigation narrowed it down to Lionel.” Lopez, who failed to abide by the terms of his community corrections sentence for the burglary conviction, was resentenced to prison. He is being held in the Montrose County Jail, however, because of the backlog in the prison system. Raynes said Lopez’s bail on the murder charges is $500,000. He is scheduled to appear in court June 26. Trujillo vanished after meeting with her divorce attorney and therapist on April 9, 2003, to sign a property settlement with her estranged husband. It was Lopez, who worked at the quarry at the time, who picked her up as she walked away from that meeting. Subsequent investigation showed Trujillo was seen a short time later at the Montrose Wal-Mart buying ammunition, telling a friend at the store she was buying it for Lopez because she owed him money. “This was the last place and time that anyone other than Lionel Lopez ever saw Irene Trujillo alive,” the indictment says. Lopez had rented a hunting rifle from friends two or three days before April 9, telling them he was going hunting in Montana while on a business trip. He returned the rifle two or three days after April 9. Trujillo’s estranged husband, Rick, reported her missing April 12. On June 16, 2003, her remains were found partially buried in concrete in the quarry when they were uncovered by a contractor repairing a water line. The grand jury report says witnesses reported Lopez had been angry with Trujillo on the phone a day or two before she vanished and that Lopez has admitted to several witnesses that he killed her. In addition, a female witness said that this past winter, Lopez drove her to a spot east of Montrose in the adobe hills near the Montrose Gun Club. “This witness says that Lionel Lopez stopped the car in this area and told her that it was the spot where he killed Irene Trujillo by shooting her in the head,” the grand jury report said.

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