Sherry Arellano frequently spoke with her mother over the phone just to see how she was doing. So when Arellano was unable to reach her mother Monday evening, she decided she'd better pay her a visit.
She found her mother, Charlotte Montoya, 56, dead on the floor of her ransacked apartment, bound and tightly wrapped "like a mummy" in a blanket."I just came over to see why she hadn't called me," Arellano said tearfully. "The blanket was covered over her; I thought it was someone else at first.
Montoya died at her Taylorsville apartment, 1679 W. 5620 South, of apparent strangulation, some time after Saturday when she was last seen alive by neighbors, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Capt. Robert Jack.
The sheriff's office is searching for a man driving Montoya's silver-gray 1982 Chevrolet Chevette station wagon, license plates unknown. Police would also like find her boyfriend, Ben Salazar, 48, who is wanted for questioning, said Detective Dennis Couch.
Sheriff's officers Monday night pored over a late-model sedan, apparently belonging to Salazar, left in the apartment complex parking lot. Neighbors said they saw a man switch New Mexico license plates from his car to Montoya's car.
Residents living in apartments above Montoya knew nothing of the killing until they heard Arellano's screams Monday evening.
"I was just sitting here when I heard this blood-curdling scream. She said `she's dead, she's dead, I know she's dead,' " Rick Lambert, 34, said.
Lambert heard the screams and darted inside the Montoya apartment, thinking Montoya was suffering a heart attack but found the woman wrapped in a blanket and bound with torn rags.
"The only way I can describe it is she looked like a mummy. . . . It looked like whoever did it took some time," he said, adding the blanket had been securely fold-ed about the woman's body.
Lambert began to unwrap the blankets, believing Montoya was alive but then noticed a foul smell from the body and decided to contact police.
Medical examiners Monday night had yet to unwrap the blankets from Montoya's body and did not know the exact cause of death. Small amounts of blood were found on the bed and on clothing in the woman's bedroom, Jack said.