In 2006, police searched nationwide for a Queen Creek man accused of a machete attack on his estranged wife and her boyfriend.
The manhunt ended within days after Chandler cops arrested 33-year-old Armando Lopez Jr., who was accused of assaulting the pair inside the woman's home in Magma Ranch, a Pinal County development.
|From hero to accused child molester|
Lopez later was convicted of two counts of attempted murder and of residential burglary, and is serving a 42-year prison sentence.
The victims were injured in the surprise attack, but were released from a hospital within a short period of time.
Their names never were released publicly, but the scary situation has more than a touch of irony to it in light of more recent events.
The male victim was John Vigileos, a well-known Tempe criminal-defense attorney currently being held without bond in a county jail after his recent arrest by Gilbert police for allegedly sexually molesting his 12-year-old stepdaughter.
to our earlier blog post on this disturbing case, published last week. Court records suggest that the attorney confessed to police, some time after an alleged suicide attempt).
The female victim was his estranged wife -- the mother of the alleged molested victim.
And the little girl saw it all up close and very personal, according to an Arizona Court of Appeals decision
that upheld Lopez's convictions, including Vigileos' apparent heroic efforts to stave off the mad attacker.
"On September 24 (2006), J. and R. (the man and the woman, respectively) returned to R's house from a weekend trip and put the children to bed," the appellate court wrote. "They locked the home's exterior doors, but left the door to the garage unlocked. Early the next morning, J. and R. heard a 'light knocking' on the master bedroom door, but attributed the knocking to R.'s dog.
"Approximately half an hour later, R. got up and went to her daughter's bedroom to awaken her for school. As her daughter opened her eyes she got 'a terrified look on her face' and said, 'Oh, no, Mommy! Daddy!'
"When R. turned, she saw Lopez standing behind her holding a machete, with which he then attacked her, hitting her in the back of the head. She fell to the floor, but Lopez continued to strike her with the machete, wounding her arms, hands and torso."
This is where John Vigileos became a hero, wresting the machete from Lopez after a fierce struggle during which he, too, was injured, but not nearly as seriously as he could have been.
Lopez fled from the home and took off in his car and eluded authorities for five days.
Vigileos and "R." later got married, and had a child of their own (the woman has three children, by three different fathers).
Sadly, this story doesn't have a lived-happily-ever-after narrative.
Instead, years after John Vigileos probably saved his future wife's life and probably his own (who knows about the children?), he finds himself charged with molesting the little girl who alerted her mother to the intruder.