Cathy Torrez, Samuel Lopez: ‘Fatal Attraction’ — California College Coed’s Dead Body Found In Trunk On TV One Documentary

Cathy Torrez was a 20-year-old Latina who was found dead in her car trunk over 20 years ago. It is believed that her story will be covered on an episode of Fatal Attraction. The hit television crime series normally focuses on cases that have happened in the African-American community. But their programming may now include some Hispanic-Latino stories. Though we have not confirmed that the Fatal Attraction episode titled “Gone Too Soon” is about the Cathy Torrez murder case of Placentia, California, TV One’s show description sounds identical to that case. Below is the official tease from TV One.

“When 20-year-old honor student Cathy Torrez doesn’t return to her Southern California home after her shift at a local drugstore, her mother immediately suspects something is amiss. But it’s not until her body is found a week later that police begin to dig into her private life, looking at boyfriends past and present, in hopes of finding a killer.”


1994: Missing Student’s Body Found In Trunk

Cathy Torrez was an honor student at California State University, Fullerton, when she suddenly disappeared after leaving work in 1994. When she didn’t arrive home, Cathy’s frantic mother reported her daughter missing.

Police tried to retrace the missing coed’s steps by speaking with coworkers at Sav-On Pharmacy in Placentia. They told police that they last saw her leaving the premises after her shift ended. Cathy Torrez also told coworkers that she had plans to see Sam Lopez, her ex-boyfriend.

A search for Cathy Torrez turned up nothing until investigators located her car, a 1990 Toyota Corolla. Detectives say the car had been abandoned in a community hospital’s parking lot with Cathy Torrez’s dead body locked inside the trunk, according to the Orange County DA‘s press release.

Inside the car, they also found a letter that Cathy Torrez was writing to a friend. In that letter, Cathy wrote the time and stated that she had just finished her shift at the pharmacy. Police say the letter was unfinished, indicating that she was abruptly interrupted while penning it.


The coroner reported that Cathy Torrez died of multiple stab wounds that had been administered during two different attacks, a fact that puzzled detectives. Without any leads or further evidence, the murder case went cold for two decades.

In 2007, homicide investigators struck gold when a DNA hit connected Samuel Augustine Lopez and his cousin Xavier Lopez. Sam Lopez was long suspected as being involved in Torrez’s death.

After denying any involvement at first, Samuel Lopez eventually confessed to the killing. Police learned that Cathy Torrez and Samuel Lopez had a fiery relationship. Sam was in love with Cathy and had asked her to marry him. However, she turned him down because she wanted a big wedding and had no desire to elope. Still, Samuel Lopez wanted to meet up with her one last time and reached out to her to arrange a time.


But things went terribly wrong after prosecutors say a heated argument began after Samuel Lopez allegedly saw a hickey on the victim’s neck. In a fit of rage, Lopez plunged the knife into Cathy Torrez several times. The OC Register recounts what happened next, according to Sam’s cousin Xavier.

  • Xavier Lopez told investigators he saw them arguing and then heard screaming from the car, so he ran over to pull his cousin off the victim because he thought he was punching her.

  • As Xavier Lopez pulled his cousin off the victim, Sam Lopez sliced Xavier Lopez accidentally with the knife. Xavier Lopez calmed his cousin and then they carried the victim to the trunk of the car and put her in.

  • A car drove by at that point, so the two were nervous they had been spotted, so they drove the victim over to a nearby hospital parking lot because it was a destination that would have “24-hour activity so a car parked there for a long time could go unnoticed.

It was a vicious way to end the life of a young woman with so much promise and hope for her future. Her death impacted not only her family, but her classmates, her friends, and the Placentia community as well.

  1. Over 700 people attended her wake.
  2. 1,000 people attended her funeral at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
  3. The reward for information leading to her killers rose from $20,000 to $70,000.
  4. A learning center was named in her honor.

The Inquisitr first brought you the case of Cathy Torrez and her killer, Samuel Lopez, last year when it aired on Dateline NBC’s episode “The Promise.” Watch Cathy Torrez’s story on Fatal Attraction this Monday night, October 10, at 9 p.m. on TV One. On last week’s Fatal Attraction, the murder of Leon Baucham aired.

[Featured Image by YouTube]