The Unsolved Murder of Mercedes Vega

Mercedes Vega, 22, was found dead in the back seat of a burning vehicle on April 17, 2023. She had been tortured before dying of smoke inhalation. The investigation is open and ongoing.

The Known Details of Mercedes Vega’s Murder

On April 16, 2023, Mercedes Vega was last seen on video surveillance as she walked across the Aubrey apartment parking garage at Washington Street and Parkside Drive in Tempe, AZ. She had been looking at her cell phone as she left her apartment. She left the garage in her 2019 white Dodge Charger. Her plans for the evening included meeting friends at Dave and Busters, a local restaurant, sports bar, and video arcade.

On April 17, 2023, at approximately 12:30 p.m., sheriff’s deputies from Maricopa County and fire department personnel received a dispatch to a vehicle fire on I-10 at mile marker 85, near the town of Tonopah, AZ. Upon extinguishing the fire, they found Mercedes deceased in the vehicle’s backseat. Investigators also discovered gloves and bleach in the front seat of the vehicle and a container of lighter fluid in the back seat with the victim.

Mercedes’s autopsy report cited elements of torture. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner determined she had been beaten, suffered blunt force trauma to the head, a gunshot to her arm, burns to her body, and she had bleach in her throat. The medical examiner listed smoke inhalation as her official cause of death.  

The Investigation

Detectives found Mercedes in a vehicle belonging to an unidentified individual. They found her vehicle in the parking lot of the Culinary Dropout, at the corner of Mill Avenue and Fifth Street in Tempe.

Investigators have followed leads but have not announced any developments in the case.

The organization, Silent Witness, has offered a reward of up to $2,000.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is heading up the investigation into Mercedes’ mysterious death. They are asking if anyone has any further information regarding this case to please contact them at (480) WITNESS (948-6377).

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