Woman found dead after telling cab driver to call police if she didn't come to the door

Hernando County deputies say a man kidnapped his girlfriend, 53-year-old Viviana Sanchez, and then took her life.

Manuel Jesus Vega is in the county jail, charged with first degree murder and kidnapping. Deputies tracked down Vega and his tractor-trailer behind a Dollar Tree store. Inside the cab, they found Sanchez's body. 

Sunday afternoon, Sanchez requested a taxi at a Spring Hill home, just over the Pasco County line. She told the driver, if she didn't answer the door when they arrived, to call the police. 

"She knew that something bad was going to happen," said  Denise Moloney, Public Information Officer with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office

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The company immediately called the Pasco Sheriff's Office. When deputies got to the home, also the address of Vega, no one was there. They filed a missing person report.

Back in May, a judge issued a no-contact order between Vega and Sanchez, after Vega was arrested for domestic battery by strangulation. Investigators say it's not clear if the two were still in regular contact or living together.  

By 8:44 p.m., a taxi company worker called 911, saying she'd gotten a text from Sanchez earlier in the day, saying that she was with Vega, in fear for her life, and to call the police. 

"The text also gave information about Vega's work which is over the road trucking, and that he would be leaving on a trip Monday morning," Moloney said.

The caller said that Sanchez's family members tracked her cell phone, using an app, to the Dollar Tree on County Line Road in Spring Hill.

There, Hernando deputies found Vega's tractor trailer running, doors locked, windows up. Vega, in the driver's seat, tried to back up but was blocked by patrol cars. Soon, there was another 911 call.

"It was Vega, stating he was inside the truck and he wanted the deputies to stop trying to enter," Monoley said, "he would wait for his mother to arrive, who was evidently on her way already, and he would surrender peacefully."

Vega eventually surrendered. When deputies entered the cab, they found Sanchez, dead. Vega refused to talk about what happened or what led up to Sanchez's death.

As they try to answer those questions, the Sheriff's Office urges anyone trapped in a dangerous position that their phase 2 911 system can map where you are.

"If you're at a stationary location, dial 911 and just leave the phone down so we can come," Moloney said. "Leave some indication - why are you doing this, why are you hurting me, why are you holding me against my will, say something like that."