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Officials seek murder trial in woman’s disappearance

It’s been more than a year since anyone in Las Vegas has seen Teresa Guzman.

Clark County prosecutors think it is unlikely anyone will ever see her again.

Authorities are pursuing murder charges against Guzman’s estranged husband, though no body has been found and he originally said she ran off with another man.

Francisco Vazquez-Rosas was indicted by a Clark County District Court grand jury last week on one count of murder. Las Vegas police think the death of his wife happened in December 2008.

Authorities allege Vazquez-Rosas choked his wife to death after an argument over their extramarital affairs and her desire to leave Las Vegas with their three children. Police think Guzman’s body ended up in a trash bin that was taken to the Apex landfill and probably will never be found.

But Guzman was not reported missing by family members until May, about five months after the alleged slaying. Investigators think the reason for the delay was that Vazquez-Rosas perpetuated a rumor that his wife was alive and had left him and their three children for another man in Oklahoma, according to court records.

Lt. Lew Roberts, head of the Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide unit, said Vazquez-Rosas was “going along like his wife was still alive.”

That is, until Guzman’s children told family members that their mother hadn’t run off. She was dead, and their father was responsible, they said.

According to Vazquez-Rosas’ arrest report, his 5-year-old daughter, Brittany, told a relative that “she saw her dad Francisco choke her mom Teresa and put her in the closet and then put her in a trash bag with some toys in it.”

Investigators interviewed his 7-year-old daughter, Leslie, who told police that her parents were fighting and that she saw her father put her mother in a garbage can.

Family members told police the couple were having marital problems because of his affairs with women and her wanting to leave him for another man, according to the arrest report.

Soon after, investigators gave Vazquez-Rosas a lie detector test, which showed he had lied about what happened to his wife.

Vazquez-Rosas then told detectives a different story.

He said that on Dec. 13, 2008, his wife did not want to speak with him. When she finally did speak, Guzman told him she was leaving Las Vegas and taking their three children.

The two began arguing, and Guzman packed a bag with the children’s clothing. Vazquez-Rosas told police he tried to take the bag from her. During the struggle, she fell and hit her head.

Vazquez-Rosas said her eyes rolled back, leading him to think she had “fainted” as she had done in previous confrontations, according to his arrest report.

Guzman was still breathing, Vazquez-Rosas said, and he helped her to her feet. The two struggled again, he told police, and she ended up outside the apartment and fell to the curb.

Vazquez-Rosas said he left Guzman outside for a while, until he noticed that she was not moving.

He then dragged her “back into the apartment and he tried to revive her by hitting her face and even kissed her to try and get a reaction,” Vazquez-Rosas told police, according to the arrest report.

Vazquez-Rosas realized Guzman was dead. He told police he panicked and dragged her to a nearby trash bin.

Vazquez-Rosas managed to maneuver the body into the bin and even went back a few times to check on her.

He said he had been expecting to find the police waiting for him every time he went to the bin.

Vazquez-Rosas was arrested Dec. 24. He is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in District Court before Judge James Bixler.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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