Samuel Wiggins Murder: What Happened to Carmen Montelongo?

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Investigation Discovery’s ‘Deadly Women: Love Leaves Town’ covers three heinous murders, one of which was the slaying of Army veteran Samuel Wiggins in Diamond Bar, California, in April 2011. The perpetrator misled the investigators for days as they claimed he was alive for days after he was murdered. However, the authorities caught the murderer after they became desperate. 

How Did Samuel Wiggins Die?

Samuel Wiggins was born on September 15, 1948, and was a US Army veteran who fought in the Vietnam war. He lived in a nice neighborhood in Diamond Bar, California, and his neighbors stated he introduced Carmen Montelongo Montenegro as his girlfriend. Though the Latina woman was about a decade younger than her boyfriend, they reportedly shared a loving relationship, and she had moved into his home.

According to court documents, Samuel’s daughter-in-law, Michele Wiggins, a resident of Texas, requested a welfare check on him on May 19, 2011, to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Surprisingly, his dismembered body was found about five weeks later, with the medical examiner observing the probable time of death around April 24, 2011. There was a laceration by blunt force around his right eyebrow.

Samuel had been stabbed 24 times in the upper body. The two stab wounds to his chest had penetrated the lung, causing it to collapse and fill the chest cavity with blood. Furthermore, he had been stabbed 22 times in the back. The pathologist concluded he had been dismembered after his death, and the autopsy report determined the stab wounds to the torso as the cause of death.

Who Killed Samuel Wiggins?

According to court documents, Samuel’s neighbor last saw him alive in late April 2011. One of his next-door neighbors, Araceli Falcon, called his home on May 20, leaving a message to call her back or she would inform the police. She testified Carmen called her back the next day and told her Samuel was out of town to tend to personal matters and would return her calls after he was back. Moreover, Samuel’s landlord, Robert Baltes, stated he saw him last on April 20, 2011, when he went up to get the rent check.

Robert claimed Samuel introduced Carmen as her girlfriend to him and informed him she would move in. Albeit, the former did not see his old tenant when he returned for the next month’s rent on May 17, 2011. Samuel’s daughter-in-law, Michele, raised the alarm bells after testifying she had last talked with him over the phone on March 2, 2011. She got suspicious after Samuel did not call her for over a month and called the Sheriff’s Department for a welfare check on May 19. 

Michele claimed Carmen called her and alleged Samuel had gone out of town with a drug dealer named “Emmett.” She further claimed he was having a drug problem and was pursuing him to seek help from the Veteran’s Administration. The investigators found three money transfers worth $1,300 were made from Samuel’s saving account on April 25 and obtained surveillance images of someone withdrawing the money at a bank branch in Diamond Bar on April 26.

The officers obtained surveillance video of Carmen driving Samuel’s car at a Glendora gas station on May 12, where his credit card had been used. According to court documents, her cousin, Eugenio Montelongo, testified Carmen paid an unexpected visit to his Bell Gardens residence on May 8 and left two plastic pots with plants, asking him to keep them safe. She even left a box at a mutual friend, David Chavez’s apartment, on May 22, 2011. On May 26, an officer telephoned Carmen and inquired about Samuel’s whereabouts.

According to court documents, Carmen claimed she had seen Samuel consuming drugs in a Pomona park. The officer paid a visit to his residence the same day but found no evidence indicating any struggle taking place or him having a drug habit. However, the case cracked wide open three days later in Ontario, California, when the authorities found the perpetrator with Samuel’s dismembered body parts. Court testimonials state Carmen went to another of his cousin’s Ontario residence that day.

The cousin, Matthew Bell, claimed she showed up with two men and asked him, his girlfriend, and his brother to vacate the residence for about an hour in exchange for $100 each. Matthew agreed, and the trio left, only to return after some time to reclaim the money. They testified they saw the two men digging the backyard, but they panicked and left upon seeing them. Matthew contended a visibly nervous Carmen offered them $5,000 each if they aided her in getting rid of the waste.

The brothers agreed and got a garbage can from the garage, only for Carmen to unearth human body parts from the hole and throw them into the trash can. The trio immediately started vomiting, and Matthew informed his mother before running out. Carmen followed the group, dragging the trash can behind. She ran into a police officer, who found the body parts after opening the can when he smelt a foul dead smell from it. Carmen was charged with first-degree murder and held on $1 million bail.

Carmen Montelongo is Serving Her Sentence Today

After taking Carmen’s statement, the police uncovered two severed human arms and a skull from under the potted plants in Eugenio’s residence. In addition, they found a blood-stained carpet and some tiles in the box kept at David’s home. According to court documents, Carmen’s boyfriend, Chris Martinez, handed the police her passport and Samuel’s four bank cards.

The authorities also impounded Carmen and Samuel’s car to find a bottle of bleach inside the latter’s trunk. She was convicted of first-degree murder on August 29, 2014, and was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison. As per official court records, the 63-year-old is serving her sentence at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. Her inmate records state she might be eligible for parole in July 2029.

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