2nd person charged in Springville murder of Iraq War combat veteran

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UPDATE (ABC4 News) – A second person has now been charged for his role in the shooting death of a 29-year-old Iraq War combat veteran.

Charging documents state 31-year-old Francisco Topete Hernandez was charged with misdemeanor drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia as well as felony charges of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person (x2) and obstruction of justice.

25-year-old Victor Hugo Nathanson Contreras also faces charges of murder and obstruction of justice.

Victor Hugo Nathanson Contreras

During an interview with Contreras, he told them where they could locate the his car. Officers found it parked at Hernandez’s home in Spanish Fork.

Hernandez acknowledged he had cleaned the vehicle for Contreras and said Contreras texted him around 1:40 a.m. on September 22 asking him to clean his car because he and his wife’s anniversary was coming up.

Documents state when officers to search his phone for a timeline, Hernandez said he did not have call history on his phone. When Hernandez was asked about how he cleaned Contreras’ car, Hernandez said he cleaned white paint off the outside of the vehicle but did not clean the inside.

Neighbors however told officers Hernandez took multiple hours to clean the car, both inside and out.

Police believe that prior to Morales’ murder, both Hernandez and Contreras spent time at Hernandez’s home in Spanish Fork.

Evidence from the murder of Morales, that was taken from the car, were found inside Hernandez home. Among the items recovered were a sawed off shotgun, a 22 revolver, marijuana, and a glass pipe.


SPRINGVILLE (ABC4 News) – Springville Police have arrested and charged a Payson man for the murder of 29-year-old Lazaro Nieves Morales. Investigators said they are still looking into whether there were accomplices.

According to Springville Police Chief Craig Martinez, officers received calls from neighbors after hearing gunshots and a driver who found a body near a train overpass Sunday between 1 and 2 a.m. in the area of 1600 South 300 East.

“This is a nice, quiet community. So something like this happening kind of stirs up some emotions,” said Chief Martinez.

Morales’ body was found with five gunshot wounds ‘against the south wall, on his back and right side, near what appeared to be fresh graffiti on the concrete wall,’ according to investigators and charging documents.

Documents stated there were several areas on Morales’ body where white paint could be seen. Tire tracks of white paint were found near him and appeared to travel in a direction away from the scene.

According to Morales’ landlord, he was seen leaving with two people Saturday night in a dark maroon sedan. One of those individuals was identified as 25-year-old Victor Hugo Nathanson Contreras.

When officers located Contreras at a residence in Spanish Fork on Monday, they found a vehicle matching the description with white paint on its front and back tires on passenger side. Residents at that residence told police Contreras had them try and clean off the paint on the vehicle.

Investigators said Contreras admitted to spending most of Saturday drinking alcohol and smoking cocaine and methamphetamine at Morales’ place. Charging documents stated Contreras said he was ‘so high, he couldn’t remember anything that happened after that.’ But when he was asked if he could have shot Morales, Contreras said it was possible.

Chief Martinez said investigators are still going through interviews and evidence to determine if there were any accomplices.

“We’ve got several search warrants that we’re serving on different vehicles and different homes. We’ve got plenty of other people to interview at this time, but we’re very, very confident that we have our shooter in custody in the Utah County Jail,” he said.

Contreras faces charges of murder and obstruction of justice. The firearm has not been located.

Morales’ family declined to comment on the case Tuesday. But his nephew told ABC4 News he was an Iraq War combat veteran.

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