Trucker Arrested For Murder After Woman Found Dead In His Truck
Spring Hill, Florida – A trucker from Florida is in police custody and has been charged with first degree murder and kidnapping after the body of a woman who went missing on Sunday was discovered in the back of his semi-truck.
Vivana Sanchez, 53, of Spring Hill, was fearful for her life after an ongoing domestic dispute with over-the-road trucker Manuel Jesus Vega, 50.
According to a release by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Sanchez called for a taxi at approximately 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 14 and requested a pick-up in 30 minutes from Vega’s home address in Pasco County.
She also told the taxi company to call the police if she didn’t answer the door when they arrived.
Alarmed by Sanchez’s statement, a representative from the taxi company immediately contacted the Pasco Sheriff’s Office (PSO) instead of dispatching a taxi.
Upon arrival to the residence, deputies from PSO discovered nobody was there and a missing person’s report was filed.
Hours later, at 8:44 p.m., 9-1-1 operators received a call from a female identifying herself as an employee from the taxi company Sanchez had called that afternoon.
The caller then informed 9-1-1 operators Sanchez texted her saying she was with Vega and afraid.
According to the caller, Sanchez also indicated that Vega was an OTR trucker and would be leaving Monday morning on a scheduled trip.
Fearing for her life, Sanchez asked the woman to to call the police.
The caller also informed Hernando County emergency operators that family members of Sanchez were able to track her cell phone to the area of a Dollar Tree on County Line Road.
Authorities say the unnamed female caller drove to the area and saw Vega’s truck parked behind the Dollar Tree.
It was at that time she called 9-1-1, according to investigators.
HCSO deputies arrived on scene to find the tractor-trailer running.
Police attempted to make contact with someone inside, but the driver, later identified as Vega, attempted to back the truck up.
The driver’s attempts were thwarted by patrol vehicles that had blocked the big rig from behind.
Vega then pulled the truck forward a short distance and stopped.
At that time, deputies attempted to enter the truck, but were unable to gain entry since the doors were locked with windows up.
Vega then called 9-1-1 and told Hernando County emergency operators that he was inside the truck.
Further, he warned that deputies should not try to enter.
Vega informed the 9-1-1 operator he was waiting for his mother to arrive at the scene and would surrender peacefully at that time.
Though he refused to exit the truck, Vega communicated with authorities on-scene.
Vega eventually exited the big rig without incident.
Police then searched the tractor-trailer and discovered the deceased body of Sanchez inside.
Vega refused to speak with detectives about the events that lead to Sanchez’s death.
Investigators have since uncovered ongoing domestic violence confrontations between Vega and Sanchez spanning back to earlier in the Spring of this year.
In May, a Pasco County judge issued a “no contact order” between the two parties after Vega was arrested for an incident on April 30 where he tried to suffocate Sanchez, according to court documents.
According to an arrest warrant, Vega was taken into custody on May 10 on charges of domestic battery by strangulation and resisting arrest without violence.
Arrest warrants also note Vega violated the protective order less than 24 hours later when he called Sanchez from the Pasco County jail.
Vega bonded out of jail on May 23 and was due in court on July 29 for arraignment.
Vega’s History of Crime
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Vega was a member of “La Asociación Ñeta,” a prison gang that originated in Puerto Rico and has since widely spread in the U.S.
In the 2000s, he was convicted in Orange County [Florida] on charges of kidnapping, aggravated battery and interference with child custody, for which he spent time in prison.
State records also show, according to the Times, he was convicted of domestic violence battery in 2014 and felony battery in 2016.
The arrest report states he attacked his then-wife (not Sanchez) in 2016.
Vega’s ex-wife has since passed away, though the circumstances surrounding her death are unclear.
The truck where Sanchez’s body was located is marked “LMK Carbo Trucking,” based in Riverview, Florida.
According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the company owns four tractors, employs four drivers and hauls general freight.
It is not clear when Vega obtained his CDL.
According to authorities, it is unknown if Vega and Sanchez were still residing together or if they maintained regular contact prior to Sunday’s incident.
A preliminary investigation indicated that Sanchez was the victim of “homicidal violence,” according to police.
An autopsy is being conducted to determine the exact cause of death.
Vega is currently being held at the Hernando County Detention Center on a “no bond” status.
The investigation is ongoing.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to bring you updates as they become available.