Man confesses to killing wife in front of child, affidavit says

Octavio Vargas-Hererra

A Grand Junction man stabbed his wife to death in front of the couple’s 2-year-old daughter after she told him she didn’t love him, according to an arrest affidavit released Monday.

Octavio Vargas-Herrera, 24, 3025 Mohawk Ave., made his first appearance in court Monday via closed-circuit television from Mesa County Jail and was advised he could be charged with first-degree murder.

County Judge Bruce Raaum set his bond at $1 million. Authorities were looking into whether he is in the country illegally.

Vargas-Herrera’s brother, Luis Vargas, found the body of 23-year-old Jeana Ann Vargas inside her home at 2908 1/2 Walnut Ave. just before 9 p.m. Sunday. She died of multiple stab wounds to her neck, and coroner’s officials ruled her death a homicide.

The affidavit spelled out the details of a gruesome killing and a confession given by Vargas-Herrera.

Vargas told Grand Junction police detectives his brother dropped off the 2-year-old girl at their mother’s home around 8 p.m. and left without coming inside. He said that after Vargas-Herrera left, their mother found blood on the back of the girl’s shirt but the girl was uninjured.

Vargas said he called his brother on his cell phone, and his brother told him he had killed his wife and was driving to a remote area of the desert to kill himself. Vargas told police his brother worked at an orchard on East Orchard Mesa.

Just before 10 p.m., a Mesa County sheriff’s deputy found Vargas-Herrera’s car stuck in some mud off a roadway on East Orchard Mesa and a Leatherman tool with the knife blade covered in blood inside the car. Bare footprints led from the car back to the road.

About an hour later, Vargas-Herrera called 911 from a Fruita gas station and said he wanted to turn himself in. Officers reported finding large blood stains on his pants and mud on his pants and feet.

After initially saying he didn’t understand the law and wanted to speak with an attorney, Vargas-Herrera agreed to talk to detectives. He told them his wife told him she didn’t love him and that she wanted him to leave. He said they argued at her house on March 7 and that he met with her last week to try to work out their marriage, but she wouldn’t accept him back.

Police records show officers were called out to Jeana Vargas’ home just after 10 p.m.  March 9 for a verbal disturbance. The records don’t indicate who was involved in the disturbance, and officers took no formal action.

Vargas-Herrera told detectives he told his wife last week he would kill himself if they didn’t reconcile. At the time, he told them, he was thinking about killing both himself and her.

He said he had dinner with his wife at her house Sunday evening and she showed him a blog she created. It contained entries as far back as 2007 indicating she didn’t love him. He said he was enraged after reading the blog and while she was changing their daughter’s diaper, he went to the kitchen, grabbed his Leatherman tool, unfolded the knife blade and hid it in his pocket.

Vargas-Herrera said he went into the master bedroom with his wife and daughter and asked her one more time to give them a chance. When she refused, he walked around behind her, grabbed her and tried to stab her in the neck.

After she struggled and avoided the knife, he tackled her and repeatedly stabbed her in the neck, then slit her throat and held his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming. He said their daughter was within a couple of feet of them during the stabbing.

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said Vargas-Herrera has no criminal record.


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