Michigan Man Stages Fiancée's Death In Fiery 'Car Crash'

During an interrogation, Donald Spice didn’t even attempt to claim he was innocent after police found Lori Marie Vargas’s body in a burned-out car.

April 12, 2022
Prison photo of Donald Spice, who was charged with murdering his fiancée. Donald Spice wears a blue and orange jacket and has a grey beard.

Prison photo of Donald Spice, who was charged with murdering his fiancée.

Photo by: Warner Bros Discovery [Screenshot from ID's "Signs of a Psychopath"]

Warner Bros Discovery [Screenshot from ID's "Signs of a Psychopath"]

In the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2015, authorities near Grand Rapids, Michigan, thought they were responding to a fiery car accident along Interstate 96 but the scene just didn’t seem right.

There was a gas can in the grass, and the dead woman inside the vehicle hadn’t succumbed to trauma from the apparent crash. Instead, authorities realized that she’d been bludgeoned to death with a blunt object.

They also noticed a man—45-year-old Donald Spice—walking away from the scene.

Police arrested Spice and took him to an interrogation room where they offered him a cup of coffee and began asking questions about what happened to the woman in the burned vehicle.

“I didn’t want to hurt her,” Spice insisted several times.

During the interrogation, Spice told a detective that the woman was his fiancée, 37-year-old Lori Marie Vargas. The day before the vehicle was discovered, Spice said he got a text from Vargas saying that she was going to leave him because she doubted his commitment to their relationship.

It was then that things went horribly wrong.

While the investigation would later reveal that Vargas was likely murdered as she lay sleeping in her bed, Spice told investigators that she was threatening to kill the couple’s dog and that he was forced to step in.

Spice said he grabbed a hammer and struck the woman once in the head.

“There was so much blood,” he explained.

Spice went on to tell authorities that he placed Vargas’s body in the passenger seat of her vehicle and drove around for a while before he staged the car crash scene, using a lighter and gasoline to torch the car.

Prior Bad Acts

Killing Vargas wasn’t Spice’s first foray into crime. Dubbed the “nighthawk” for his tendency to commit his crimes after dark, police say he committed more than 1,200 burglaries during the 1990s, according to WZZM. He went to prison in 1998 and was released in February 2014, less than two years before he killed Vargas.

The Motive Was Money

As police investigated Vargas’s death, they realized that someone had used Spice’s computer and credit card to buy a life insurance policy on Vargas about six weeks before her death. Spice was listed as the sole beneficiary of that policy despite the fact that Vargas had two children.

If Vargas died of accidental causes, Spice stood to net a $200,000 payout.

Spice was found guilty of first-degree murder and mutilation of a body in June 2016. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Learn more about this case and hear other shocking confessions from suspected criminal psychopaths on Signs of a Psychopath available on discovery+.

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