The young couple had only been living in their rented flat for a week, but it was already starting to feel like home. Maria Nemeth, 31, was the leasing manager at the apartment block in Sunrise, Florida, where she’d also found a place for her and boyfriend Fidel Lopez. They didn’t have lots of furniture yet, so the
couple pushed together two cardboard boxes as a makeshift table for celebratory drinks.
It was the evening of 30 September 2015. Earlier, Peru-born Maria had cooked Fidel a chicken dinner after he’d returned from work as a mechanic. They’d visited his mum before having some drinks in a nearby restaurant. On the way home, they’d picked up a bottle of tequila.
Maria was softly spoken, polite and beautiful. She’d been married before, but they’d separated without having children and Maria had met Cuba-born Fidel on a night out. The pair had talked about marrying and starting a family. That night Maria and Fidel drank shots together with slices of lime and salt, while listening to music. Fidel would later describe Maria as his perfect love, but then something went horribly wrong.
In the early hours of the morning, Fidel made a desperate 911 call.
“She’s not breathing,” he screamed at the dispatcher, as he wept uncontrollably. “She’s going to die, man.” Fidel said he’d been having ‘rough sex’ with his girlfriend when she suddenly went into the bathroom to throw up, and collapsed. Now Maria wasn’t breathing.
When paramedics arrived at the apartment, they found a scene of total horror: the walls were smeared with blood and covered in punch holes; a glass door had been completely shattered; and the doors of the walk-in wardrobe were hanging off their fixings. It looked like there had been a violent struggle.
Paramedics could hear sobbing coming from the bathroom. When they entered, they found Fidel crying over Maria’s naked body, which lay in a pool of blood. There were ‘several chunks of bloody tissue’ on the floor and it soon became clear that it was from Maria’s insides. The horrific truth was that she’d been disemboweled. Maria was pronounced dead an hour later as a result of severe blood loss.
At first, detectives thought Maria may have tried to perform an abortion on herself – but they soon realised Fidel had played a gruesome part in her death. An autopsy revealed that Maria had been sexually assaulted using household items. Her insides had been pulled out from between her legs.
Investigators pushed for the truth and took Fidel in for questioning. At first, Fidel said the couple had been having rough drunken sex and that Maria asked for things to be inserted inside her, and Fidel insisted it was something she enjoyed. Afterwards, he claimed Maria was having problems breathing and had headed to the bathroom to throw up where he’d found her collapsed. But it was obvious there was far more to the story.
Finally, Fidel admitted that the pair had been having tequila-fuelled sex in the wardrobe when Maria had accidentally called out her ex-husband’s name – twice. Fidel had flown into a furious rage. He said she’d passed out from the alcohol, but she could have been knocked unconscious as a result of his violent anger.
“She changed my name,” Fidel said, during interrogation. “She called me the name of the other f**king guy – and she said it twice and she was wrong and she was confusing me with him. At that point, I get mad. I get really, really mad.”
Fidel admitted he became a ‘monster’. He’d smashed up the apartment, including shattering a glass sliding door, then he returned to Maria. Detectives couldn’t believe how his anger then escalated and turned into a twisted sexual attack.
Fidel brutally assaulted his unconscious girlfriend, then pulled out her intestines, before carrying her naked body to the bathroom. He tried and failed to revive Maria by splashing cold water on her face.
Fidel admitted that he’d washed the blood off his hands, then went onto the porch for a cigarette. He went back inside to clean up and hide the intestines, before calling 911. By then, Maria couldn’t be saved.
Fidel was charged with her murder and held without the chance for bond. The case attracted a great deal of media attention. A man was awaiting trial for disemboweling his girlfriend for calling out the wrong name during sex. It made for shocking headlines.
Initially, Fidel, 26, pleaded not guilty, but the violent nature of his crime meant there was a chance he’d get the death penalty. So in July this year, Fidel pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and sexual battery to avoid execution. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Fidel made a statement and attempted to apologise to Maria’s heartbroken family.
“Today, I’m happy to fulfill this conviction,” he said. “I know what I did has to be paid for and I agree… I pay with my life for the life I took. To Maria’s family I ask for forgiveness.”
Fidel’s mother also apologised to Maria’s family for the actions of her son, who she called ‘loving’.
Maria’s dad made an emotional statement about his devastating loss. He said, through a translator, “She was and will continue to be a model of affection, effort, perseverance and lover of humanity.”
The terms of the plea deal mean Fidel can never appeal and will never be eligible for parole. The monster who ended his girlfriend’s life in a jealous rage will spend the rest of his days behind bars. Maria paid the ultimate price for her slip of the tongue.