Fight over money led to killing, suspect says

A Hotchkiss man who confessed Wednesday to killing 27-year-old Madelaine Loh told authorities he strangled her during a fight about money, according to a report released Friday.

Edgar U. Macias-Moreno, 24, is facing a count of first-degree murder as well as a slew of other charges after turning himself in to the Delta County Sheriff's Office Wednesday morning and admitting that he had killed Loh and dumped her body in the desert in western Utah.

Loh, who lived with Macias-Moreno in a trailer on a farm near Hotchkiss, was last heard from June 19. Her mother reported her missing Sunday. Her body was found in Utah on Wednesday afternoon, several hours after Macias-Moreno told investigators where to look for her.

Macias-Moreno told investigators that he and Loh had been dating about a year, according to an affidavit for his arrest. He claimed they were both fired from their jobs at a cannabidiol extraction farm because the owner suspected they had stolen money from the business, according to the report.

Macias-Moreno said the business' owner presented them with a "big figure" of the money they owed back to her, the report said.

Macias-Moreno said he and Loh were fighting on the night of June 18 or June 19 while moving their belongings out of the trailer, which was parked on the farm. He said Loh punched him in the back and threw her cellphone at him.

"Edgar told me that Madelaine is 'little' and her striking him did not hurt him," an investigator wrote in the report. "Edgar said he told Madelaine to stop but she didn't."

Macias-Moreno told investigators he grabbed Loh by her neck and strangled her while pinning her down on the bed in the camper, the report said.

"He thought this went on for about five minutes before realizing that she wasn't breathing," the investigator wrote.

Macias-Moreno said he left the bedroom for about 10 minutes, then checked on her again and realized she had no pulse. He didn't attempt to perform CPR, and, shortly after midnight, he carried her body to her Jeep Renegade and seat-belted her into the front passenger seat.

He drove west to Delta, where he filled up the gas tank and bought some drinks using Loh's debit card.

Macias-Moreno took Loh's dog with him but then stopped between Delta and Grand Junction, took the dog's collar off and let it go. He made another stop in Grand Junction to buy cigarettes with Loh's card.

He headed west into Utah, then south on Interstate 15. Eventually he stopped in Millard County, Utah, and left Loh's body about a mile off the highway behind some "large tree stumps."

"He told me he did not cover her with anything," the investigator wrote. "He said he placed her on her side and described it as a fetal position. He told me he sat with her for several minutes, cried and told her he was sorry."

Macias-Moreno said he then drove onto Las Vegas, trying twice more unsuccessfully to use Loh's debit card.

"He said he was almost out of money, but tried to gamble the last of the money (he) had," the investigator wrote. "He said he lost the remaining cash."

Macias-Moreno said he begged from people on the street until he had enough money for gas to start back to Colorado. He said he tried to check on Loh's body on the way back but couldn't find it. He said he stopped at a town called Moore in Utah, intending to kill himself. Macias-Moreno said he drenched a shirt in gas, got in the Jeep and lit the shirt on fire.

"He said it started to get hot inside the car and smoke was bothering him, so he got out of the car," the investigator wrote.

Macias-Moreno claimed he watched Loh's Jeep burn completely. He climbed to the top of some nearby cliffs, but couldn't bring himself to jump.

"He decided he would just get home to his family," the investigator wrote.

On Wednesday, Macias-Moreno's family, who live in Delta County as well, accompanied him to turn himself in, the report said. Investigators had already been searching for him, the report said.

Macias-Moreno was taken into custody on suspicion of first-degree murder; second-degree kidnapping; reckless endangerment; abuse of a corpse; aggravated motor vehicle theft; illegal use of credit cards; fraud; concealing death; and cruelty to animals.

He is due back in court July 11.

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