Investigation Discovery’s ‘American Monster’ is a television series that showcases the unassuming lives of American families where a killer lurks within the filial relations. It takes us into the minds of killers who have the disposition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They seem to be a part of a happy family leading lives of perfect communion, but as fate has it, they turn into monsters with sinister machinations. The show plays out as a documentary with home videos of pristine moments juxtaposed with real-life interviews that take us through the family’s experience.
‘American Monster’ also contains accounts of investigative officers who are assigned the cases. The true-crime show is an engrossing watch as we get to know about the extent to which human minds can plot macabre schemes of violence. The third episode of season 3, titled ‘Backyard Daddy, ‘ tells the story of the gruesome murder of Rebecca “Becky” Vargas.
How Did Becky Vargas Die?
In the 1990s, Becky Vargas, married to Stephen Vargas, was a resident of Ogden, Utah. She was a doting mother of two daughters and a charming presence in her family. On December 27, 1995, Melinda McLean, sister-in-law of Becky, got a call from Stephen Vargas asking her to check on Becky. She and her husband, David, drove to her new apartment and heard moaning noises. Suspecting that she was with someone else, Melinda informed Stephen and drove back.
They decided to check further in the wee hours of the next day, and upon searching, found out the bloodied body of Becky in the backyard of the house. As it was about 20 degrees that night, Becky’s body was lying in pools of thick blood, one at her head and the other at her feet. When the police were informed, the forensic experts investigated and found out that she had been assaulted with a blunt object on her head. The back half of her skull was severely damaged, and the front part had grave injuries from blunt force trauma.
The weapon of murder wasn’t found at the spot. On further examination, it was alleged that Becky had been alive when she was attacked the second time resulting in her gruesome death. Her body was found in a partially nude state, with her top pulled back, exposing her chest. It was as if someone had tried to stage a crime of sexual assault. The forensic experts found a heavy torch/lantern across the backyard later in the day, which was suspected to be the object of murder.
Who Killed Becky Vargas?
Stephen Vargas, Becky’s husband, was charged with her murder. The investigating officer, David Weloth, reached this conclusion when he found out little discrepancies in the narrative of Stephen and Melinda McLean. Stephen had told him that upon receiving the call stating that Becky was with someone else, he drove by her apartment to check on her. Stephen had met Melinda and her husband, who were also there. Melinda skipped this particular detail in her narrative, thereby raising suspicions.
A few days later, David Weloth received the news of Robert Escobel, Stephen’s half brother. He informed that on December 22, 1995, Stephen had asked him whether he was willing to kill Becky. Stephen was unhappy with his marriage and was irked by the fact that Becky might be cheating on her. This news had made Stephen the prime suspect of the murder. The police then obtained a search warrant to investigate Stephen’s home and vehicle, wherein they found bloodstained leave debris.
On DNA analysis of the bloodstains, it matched with Becky’s DNA. Such stark evidence solidified the officers’ hunch that Stephen was the killer. In late 1996, he was charged with first-degree felony murder and was imprisoned. Despite conclusive evidence and testimonies, Stephen pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence until May 2016, when he confessed to his crime. He is currently serving his sentence at the Utah State Prison.
Read More: Where is Stephen Vargas Now?