November 18, 2019 — Edgar Macias-Moreno is to serve 40 years in prison for the 2018 strangulation murder of Madelaine Loh. He was sentenced on Nov. 15 for second-degree murder.
Loh, who was dating Macias Moreno, was killed during an argument in their Hotchkiss home in June 2018. Macias-Moreno then loaded Loh’s body and her dog into her Jeep and took off to Utah. He abandoned the dog, Max, along the highway, where the animal was later found alive and rescued.
Macias-Moreno left Loh’s body in the Utah desert before heading to Las Vegas to gamble away his money. He attempted to find Loh’s body on his way back, but could not and twice attempted suicide, burning her Jeep in one of the attempts.
Loh’s body was located about one week later, after Macias-Moreno returned to Delta County and paid authorities an early-morning visit.
He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this year, after his attempt to have his confession suppressed failed.
Macias-Moreno at his Nov. 15 sentencing apologized to the Lohs, the District Attorney’s Office said.
Several family and friends of the murdered woman addressed the court, as did members of Macias-Moreno’s family.
The Montrose Daily Press was not able to be present for the hearing but obtained letters the victim’s loved ones filed with the court. Macias-Moreno’s attorneys reportedly filed information they hoped could mitigate his sentence, but these documents were suppressed.
Macias-Moreno’s actions took a bright, happy and caring young woman from her family, and her dreams of developing plant-based treatments for serious diseases along with her, the letters to the Delta District Court say.
“We are ‘loss parents,’” Loh’s mother, Helen, wrote. “A title that is associated with parents who have lost their child — in our case, taken from them!”
Loh, 27, was her parents’ only child. They will never be grandparents, never be called “Nani” and “Popsi,” as Loh had planned to have her children address them.
“Edgar Macias-Moreno took her life that night. He took her last breath from her. Yet nothing for any human mind could be as horrific and cruel as what he then continued to do to her,” Helen Loh wrote.
Macias-Moreno left her daughter’s body to decompose in 100-degree heat, she said.
And before that, immediately after killing Madelaine, he went outside to smoke, to think about how best to get away with what he had done, Helen Loh said.
Further, he chose to torture her daughter’s dog, Max.
“But nothing is as cruel as what you then did with my beautiful, innocent child… My daughter, my child! My one and only child!
“ …We couldn’t even identify her. Our last contact with our daughter was in a petri dish, to match our DNA. You did that, Edgar! You did that to her! I hope the image of her savaged body will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
In the letter, Helen Loh said no punishment could ever be enough. She and her husband, Steve, have “a life sentence of grief,” she said, and now she can only talk to Madelaine’s box of ashes.
“Maddie did not deserve this and Maddie does deserve justice.”
Several other family members also wrote letters, as did friends from around the globe. The letters tell of how the family could not bear to tell the awful truth to Loh’s elderly grandfather in Singapore, where, as the eldest grandchild, she occupied a special role.
Her uncle Kevin Barlow wrote of how her young cousins in Wales were affected by the loss of their “Big Cousin Mads.”
Instead of Loh coming to a family gathering at Red Wharf Bay to scatter the ashes of her maternal grandparents, she became the subject of the memorial that was held there. This, her uncle said, “felt totally wrong.”
The Barlow family have planted a tree in their garden, “Maddie’s Tree,” and placed beneath it a rock with a painted dragonfly, his niece’s “trademark,” Barlow said.
“The gap that has been left will never be filled, our lives will never be the same again and all because of the actions of one person. That person was Macias-Moreno and we as a family hope that today justice is served upon him and that he is detained in prison for a very, very long time,” Barlow said.
“Maddie was a beautiful, independent, fun-loving, free-spirited young lady who we all loved and we will miss her.”
Barlow on Nov. 15 addressed the court by phone, as did Ben Wood, who employed Loh in New York as a wildlife technician. He said her death broke his heart.
“I also cry with grief for the pain her parents endure and which I see,” Wood said, asking sentencing Judge Steven Schultz to show no leniency. “ … This brutal act hurts so many people.”
Loh’s friend Gina DePaul also spoke at sentencing. In her letter to the court, she said Macias-Moreno’s actions will haunt her forever and have far-reaching impact on “all the women who know or will know of this tragic story.”
Forgiving him will be hard, she said.
“I have more love and appreciation for Madi than Macias-Moreno has anger and violence. … Abusers of women — murderers of women — have no place in a society. A false assurance that he is a changed man or will be a changed man is dangerous,” De Paul wrote.
“Furthermore, it is disrespectful to Madi and to hr family and to other courageous and strong women like Madi. Please send him to a place where he will never be able to hurt someone like this ever again.”
Schultz found the murder was an act of domestic violence and imposed the maximum allowable sentence under Macias-Moreno’s plea deal — 40 years, less 506 days of pre-sentence confinement, to be followed by five years of parole.
“Judge Schultz noted the nature of the relationship between Maddie and Macias Moreno in passing his sentence, saying that Macias-Moreno violated the trust of a person who loved him,” District Attorney Dan Hotsenpiller said in a Monday statement announcing the sentence.
“The office extends its condolences to the family and friends of Madelaine Loh.”
Hotsenpiller also thanked Assistant District Attorney Barbara Sanford, who prosecuted Macias-Moreno; the Delta County Sheriff’s Office; Colorado Bureau of Investigation; authorities in Utah’s Millard and Emery counties and that state’s medical examiner. All of these agencies worked hard to locate Loh’s body and to investigate the crime, the DA said.
“This is a case where the criminal process was extremely difficult and traumatic for Maddie’s family. We will continue to prosecute these cases and hold accountable defendants who do not consider the consequences of their actions,” Hotsenpiller said in the announcement.