Crime

The Tragic Death of Kelly Mae Myers and How Her Body Ended Up in a Suitcase

A self-portrait of the late Kelly Mae Myers.
A self-portrait of the late Kelly Mae Myers. Facebook
Convicted meth dealer Raymond Cordova has pleaded guilty to desecrating a human body in the tragic case of Kelly Mae Myers, an eighteen-year-old Grand Junction resident. Authorities now believe Myers, who went missing in late 2014, died of an overdose while in the company of Cordova, who cut up her body and stuffed it into a suitcase that was found several months later.

As we've reported, Myers, a student at Grand Junction's Central High School, was last in contact with her family on December 18, 2014. However, law enforcers didn't immediately classify her case as a crime because anecdotal evidence suggested she might have left of her own free will — and since she was eighteen, such a choice was perfectly within her rights.

But as time passed, worries grew. Finally, on January 19, 2015, the Mesa County Sheriff's Office issued an alert that contained the following passage:

A few reports to investigators have indicated Kelly might have hitch hiked to Utah. Investigators believe she has friends or known associates in the Salt Lake City area, and may have been trying to get there. Currently, investigators do not have any information she is endangered, however, her family insists this is very unusual behavior for Kelly and a great cause for concern.
click to enlarge A mug shot of Raymond Cordova. - MESA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
A mug shot of Raymond Cordova.
Mesa County Sheriff's Office
The item added that "if Kelly is okay and simply wants to be left alone," investigators encouraged her to contact them "so we can share that information with her family."


No such message was received. Then, on March 1 of that year, the sheriff's office posted a grim update. It read: "Kelly Mae Myers...it is with deep sympathy we notify our community that her remains were recovered in a remote Mesa County area, yesterday" in Cactus Park, an area beloved by four-wheelers that's located approximately forty miles outside Grand Junction.

Shortly thereafter, suspicions were cast in the direction of Cordova, then 47, and another man, thirty-year-old Eduardo Delacruz, whom authorities described as "known associates" of Myers; both of them had lengthy criminal records. According to a search warrant affidavit, Cordova picked Myers up at her father's house on December 18, and the two of them, joined by Delacruz, left Colorado together en route to a birthday party in Salt Lake City.

By the next day, the three are thought to have arrived at the County Inn and Suites in West Valley City, Utah. That's the location connected to the IP address from which Myers posted this Facebook pic....

The last photo of Kelly Mae Myers. - FACEBOOK
The last photo of Kelly Mae Myers.
Facebook
...and it's also the reason the Mesa County Sheriff's Office handed over the death investigation to local police in Utah. Investigators there believe Myers OD'd that same day, December 19.


What happened next is spelled out in grisly detail by the Deseret News. After Myers died, prosecutors asserted, Cordova, Delacruz and a man dubbed D.W. — presumably an informant referred to in the aforementioned affidavit — were left to figure out what to do with her body.

Cordova suggested that the three "cut the body up and put it in a duffel bag or suitcase," court records state. While Delacruz and D.W. balked at actively taking part in this awful task, they allegedly agreed to provide the tools Cordova needed to do it himself, including a suitcase, plastic lining, masks and an electric saw. After Cordova rejected this last item as being too noisy, they tracked down a handsaw for his use.

Once Myers's remains were squeezed into the suitcase, the trio drove back to Colorado. The informant cited in the affidavit said the small car they used was filled with a "foul odor" during the trip, and the head housekeeper at the Country Inn & Suites told a similar tale about the room after Delacruz checked out on the 19th.

click to enlarge A booking photo of Eduardo Delacruz. - MESA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
A booking photo of Eduardo Delacruz.
Mesa County Sheriff's Office
In the weeks after the February 28, 2015, discovery of the suitcase, Cordova and Delacruz were named persons of interest in Myers's death — but the formal reason they were placed in Colorado custody pertained to separate accusations about involvement in a drug ring.

In the end, Cordova received a sixty-year jolt for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine — 112 grams' worth — as well as possession with the intent to distribute seven grams more. Delacruz, for his part, received a 32-year sentence on various narcotics charges.

After Colorado meted out the men's drug-related punishment, Cordova and Delacruz entered the Utah judicial system on counts that focused on what happened to Myers. When Delacruz pleaded guilty to obstructing justice in the case last month, prosecutors dropped the desecration-of-a-human-body charge against him. His sentence: up to five years in prison. But Cordova pleaded guilty to both offenses, which are expected to net him five years apiece. Whether Cordova will serve that time in Utah before or after he begins his half-century-plus stay in a Colorado prison will be determined at an August 14 hearing.

In the meantime, overdoses like the one that ended Kelly Mae Myers's life have become all too common. As we revealed in March, heroin deaths in Denver have gone up 933 percent in fourteen years.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts