Woman found dead inside burned vehicle, suspect arrested

Posted at 10:11 PM, Nov 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-09 22:11:41-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A 37-year-old woman found dead inside a burned vehicle along I-96 in Ottawa County Monday morning is now at the center of a homicide investigation.

Ottawa County Sheriff's Department deputies and fire crews responded to the burning vehicle around 2:30 a.m. Monday on I-96 at mile 22 in Wright Township. The body of  Lori Marie Vargas was found badly burned inside.

At first it seemed like a deadly, fiery crash, but further investigation lead to a home in the 1100 block of Emerald Avenue  in Grand Rapids. Evidence suggests Vargas was killed in the residence before being transported to Ottawa County where the car was set on fire, said Grand Rapids Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Terry Dixon.

"We're still trying to put the pieces together, fill in the empty holes here," said Sgt. Dixon. "Even that time of that death is still speculative because of the state of the victims body. There is evidence that indicates the incident happened inside of the residence."

Investigators say a man found walking near the crash was detained, questioned, and later confessed to the crime. Police are not identifying the suspect, but online records show Donald Spice, 45, is being held in the Kent County Jail on homicide charges.

Police said the suspect told them he had gotten into an argument with Vargas at a home on Emerald Avenue in Grand Rapids, then drove her body into Ottawa County and set the car on fire.

Janel Short, a neighbor in the 1100 block of Emerald Avenue said she was just as shocked to learn of this senseless death.

"She seemed nice, out planting flowers in the summer," said Short. "I never saw them much, though. Police have been here all day taking stuff out in bags. They towed his car away."

"GRPD sends its condolences to the family," said Sgt. Dixon. "I can't tell you why this situation has to happen. It is a heinous crime. But we will do everything that we can to hold this individual that did this accountable."