Breaking News
More () »

Tampa Bay and Sarasota's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Tampa Bay and Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com

Man kidnapped, killed woman found in truck in Dollar Tree parking lot: deputies

The woman had told a taxi company to call the police if no one answered her door.
Credit: Hernando County Jail

SPRING HILL, Fla. — A man has been charged with kidnapping and killing a woman whose body was found in a tractor-trailer in a Spring Hill Dollar Tree parking lot. Hernando County deputies said.

Manuel Jesus Vega, 50, is being held without bail in the death of Viviana Sanchez, 53.

Investigators say the two have had domestic violence issues in Pasco County since at least May. That was when a judge issued a "no contact" order after Vega was charged with domestic battery by strangulation on Sanchez.

About 2 p.m. Sunday, Sanchez called a taxi company from a Spring Hill home, asking for a ride in 30 minutes. She told the dispatcher if no one answered the door, they should call police, deputies said.

The dispatcher contacted the Pasco County Sheriff's Office right away.

Pasco deputies went to where the call was made and found no one was home. A missing person report was filed.

About 8:44 p.m., Hernando County 911 operators got a transfer call from Pasco County. A person with the taxi company said they had received a text message from Sanchez saying she was with Vega and in fear for her life. The message gave information about Vega's job as a truck driver and that he would be leaving Monday morning on a trip.

The caller said Sanchez's family members had traced her phone to a Dollar Tree on County Line Road. The caller said they had driven by the location and saw Vega's tractor-trailer in the parking lot but saw no one around it.

Hernando County deputies went to the Dollar Tree and found the tractor-trailer was running. When they tried to contact anyone inside the vehicle, the truck tried to back up, but it was blocked in by patrol cars. The truck then pulled forward and stopped.

Deputies tried to enter the vehicle, but the doors were locked and the windows were rolled up.

Hernando County 911 then received a call from someone saying they were in the truck and deputies should not try to enter. The caller said he was waiting for his mother to arrive, and then he would surrender.

Deputies continued to talk with Vega, who they say refused to exit the vehicle. After a short time, however, he got out of the truck.

When deputies entered the truck's cab, they found Sanchez's body.

Deputies said Vega refused to speak with deputies about what led up to Sanchez's death. He has been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping.