SLC motel murder suspect charged

SLC motel murder suspect charged. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Joshua Saunders, who is suspected of murdering a woman in a Salt Lake City motel in November, has been charged with murder.

At 8:44 a.m., police responded to a call from a motel on 819 West North Temple.

Officers and medical personnel found the body of Mechelle Lindberg, 25, on the floor of room number 406. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

Police discovered an identification card bearing the name of Javier Pena. It was then learned that the room had been rented to Pena.

Officers reviewed the motel's surveillance recordings and saw the following:

- A man, later identified as Saunders, enters the room at 6:33 a.m.
- Lindberg entered the room at 6:55 a.m.
- At 7:18 a.m., Saunders and Pena exit the room and "appear to be visibly shaken," police documents say.
- Pena goes back into the room, and after a minute, exits with another female, later identified as Kristie Hansen.
- Pena, Saunders, and Hansen walk out and place a bag in the motel dumpster.
- Saunders gets into a cab and leaves the area.

Further surveillance footage shows Pena and Hansen meet with Saunders. Together they are shown discarding a black bundle into a garbage can on a TRAX platform.

In this video, the handle of a handgun is visibly sticking out of Saunders' waistband.

Saunders was arrested in the vicinity of the hotel on Nov. 28 at 9:10 a.m.

He admitted to police that he shot a woman while they were sitting in Pena's motel room. He then stated that he threw the handgun into a garbage can at the motel.

Police interviewed Pena and Hansen, who admitted to being in the room 406 with Saunders and Ms. Lindberg. They stated that Saunders had a .357 handgun with him.

Pena and Hansen both described hearing a loud boom, then seeing Lindberg stand and fall to the floor. They then stated that when they went outside Saunders attempted to follow them, but they were able to break away.

Lindberg was determined to have died from a gunshot wound to the head. Her manner of death was deemed a homicide.

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