The body of missing Paris woman, Stephanie Loftin, was recovered on Tuesday in Love County, Oklahoma, with authorities stating she had been killed and buried in a clandestine grave in the western portion of the county early last month.
Loftin was reported missing in Lamar County on Dec. 6, 2023.
Love County Sheriff Andy Cumberledge said the recovery stems from an extensive investigation by investigators with the Love County Sheriff’s Office, along with investigators from the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office, Texas DPS CID, and the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.
“A rental vehicle registered to Lofton was located in Stephens County abandoned on Dec. 14, 2023,” said Cumberledge. “Through extensive investigation Stephens and Love County Deputies were able to connect Lofton and the abandoned vehicle to a suspect Michael Gonzalez.”
Over the past several weeks, investigators with both agencies pieced the case together with “very little information to go on.”
Through the course of the investigation, it was discovered that the victim had been shot and killed by her estranged boyfriend in the southern portion of Love County and buried in western Love County on the night of Dec. 3, 2023, into the morning of Dec. 4, 2023.
According to reports, the suspect then fled the state to California in an attempt to evade capture.
An arrest warrant was issued for the suspect and he was arrested by the LAPD before being extradited back to Oklahoma where he is facing Unauthorized Used of a Motor Vehicle charges in Stephens County and 1st Degree Murder in Love County.
“As I have said many times in the past these types of investigations could not be successful without great partnerships and collaboration among multiple agencies,” said Cumerledge.
Cumberledge noted the following agencies, who assisted in some way during the investigation:
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol, The Gainesville Police Department, The Los Angeles Police Department, the United States Secret Service, The Stephens County Sheriff’s Office, The Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division, The Frisco Police Department, The Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, The Oklahoma Medical Examiners Office, The United States Marshal’s, and YOUR Love County Sheriff’s Office.
“I would like to commend Lt. Tim Vann with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office. Without his diligence in following up on this case and continuing the investigation past locating the abandoned vehicle, this case never would have been solved, the victim would never have been located, and the victim’s family would never have gotten any justice,” he said. “I would also like to commend Investigator’s Brad Clark, Nigel Sewell, and Undersheriff Trent Daniel with our office for the extensive amount of hours and investigative work they put in to helping solve this case. We truly have some of the best Deputies working for our office and I’m so proud of the hard work and dedication they have for this community! Thankfully we are able to provide some sort of closure for the victims family.”
Cumberledge reiterated that this is still an ongoing murder case with charges pending so the information being provided is to maintain transparency from his office with the community and not all facts and circumstances are listed in this briefing.
“We will be working with prosecutors to make sure that this suspect is never able to victimize another person the rest of his miserable life.”