The Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigates the homicide of Megan Lewis, 39, of Chicago, who was found dead on the side of the roadway on Hunt Club Road between Kelly Road and Route 173 in Old Mill Creek on November 29, 2023. Juan A. Vega-Montoya, 37, of Chicago, (inset) was arrested in December in connection with her murder. | Photo: Joe Shuman/J. Shuman Photography (2023)

Murder charges have been filed against a man who admitted to killing a pregnant woman in Chicago, keeping her body in his car for days and then dumping the body along a roadway near Wadsworth.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office responded around 7 a.m. on November 29 to Hunt Club Road south of Route 173 in Old Mill Creek.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said at the time that a 911 caller reported a possible body on the side of the road.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived and located the body of a deceased woman on the east shoulder of Hunt Club Road.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek identified the woman as Megan Lewis, 39, of Chicago, and said she died as a result of strangulation.

A bystander told Lake and McHenry County Scanner she was driving southbound on Hunt Club Road heading toward Wadsworth Road when she passed by the scene.

The woman said she saw the body in a black bag on the side of the road.

Covelli said in an update in December that sheriff’s detectives worked “tirelessly” to identify and arrest the suspect who murdered Lewis, who was 16 weeks pregnant when she was killed.

Detectives processed the crime scene and located physical evidence identifying Juan A. Vega-Montoya, 37, of Chicago, as a potential suspect.

Sheriff’s detectives reviewed video surveillance and determined Lewis was picked up by Vega-Montoya on November 26 in the area of Cicero Avenue and West Belden Avenue in Chicago.

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Cook County prosecutors said in court documents recently filed that Vega-Montoya’s vehicle was captured on a traffic camera near Hunt Club Road and Wadsworth Road, which is a mile and a half from where Lewis’ body was found.

In a video-recorded statement to detectives, Vega-Montoya said he was parked near a McDonald’s at the Cicero Avenue and West Belden Avenue intersection when Lewis got into his car and offered to perform a sex act in exchange for money.

A witness gave investigators a description of a vehicle that Lewis got into, which aided investigators.

Vega-Montoya said he drove to a dark area a few minutes away from the McDonald’s and an argument and physical struggle began in the car.

He said that Lewis pepper sprayed him and then he grabbed the woman by her throat and squeezed until she stopped breathing, prosecutors said.

Vega-Montoya told investigators he then went to buy beer and drove home where he parked his car in the alleyway.

Vega-Montoya dragged Lewis’ body into the rear passenger compartment and placed a t-shirt over the driver’s window to conceal her body, prosecutors said.

The next day, he said he wrapped the woman’s body in black garbage bags before driving on Interstate 94 until he reached Wadsworth.

Prosecutors said that Vega-Montoya told investigators he pulled over on the side of a dark road and dragged Lewis’ body out of his car before fleeing during the evening hours on November 28.

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The Chicago Police Department obtained surveillance video in Chicago and Vega-Montoya identified himself, the victim and his car.

His cell phone location data also confirmed his whereabouts when he dumped the victim’s body, prosecutors said.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigates the homicide of a Chicago woman who was found dead on the side of the roadway on Hunt Club Road between Kelly Road and Route 173 in Old Mill Creek on November 29, 2023. | Photo: Joe Shuman/J. Shuman Photography (2023)

Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Facklam said during one of Vega-Montoya’s initial court hearings that the argument was over a “small amount of money.”

Detectives conducted surveillance in early December in the area of Vega-Montoya’s home.

Vega-Montoya was spotted driving and detectives conducted a traffic stop where they took him into custody.

Detectives recovered multiple items, including a pepper spray can, an earring, a pink fingernail, blood and a partial condom wrapper inside Vega-Montoya’s vehicle, Cook County prosecutors said.

The earring and fingernail are believed to have belonged to the victim.

Prosecutors also said a crime lab compared a DNA swab obtained from Lewis’ neck and left thigh to the DNA profile of Vega-Montoya.

The DNA from the neck showed that the mixture of DNA was 46.4 quintillion times more likely to originate from Lewis and Vega-Montoya than to originate from Lewis and an unknown contributor, prosecutors said.

The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed the case in December and approved the charge of concealing a homicidal death, a Class 3 felony.

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He was later indicted by a grand jury in Lake County on charges of concealing a homicidal death, concealing a death and abusing a corpse by removing it without authorization.

Because the murder occurred in Chicago, sheriff’s detectives turned over all investigative information to the Chicago Police Department.

Charges of two counts of first-degree murder were recently filed in Cook County Circuit Court against Vega-Montoya, CWBChicago reported Saturday.

“It is simply unconscionable to kill someone then dump their body on the side of a roadway, in a humiliating fashion. I am very proud of the members of our Office who spent countless hours seeking evidence and searching for Megan’s killer. I am grateful for all of the agencies who assisted and worked to hold Megan’s killer accountable,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said at the time of Vega-Montoya’s arrest.

Vega-Montoya remains held in the Lake County Jail after Lake County Judge Ari Fisz granted a detention petition filed by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The judge, during a detention hearing in mid-December, said that Vega-Montoya demonstrated a “severe disregard for the sanctity of human life” by wrapping the woman’s body in garbage bags and dumping her on the road.

Vega-Montoya is scheduled to appear in Lake County court again on June 17 for a case management conference.