Tempe police say they responded to an apartment complex at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday after receiving reports of a woman screaming. There they found 39-year-old Kristina Howato bleeding from stab wounds. Howato, who was in her third trimester of pregnancy, was transported to a local hospital where she and the unborn child died.
Twenty-year-old Fabian Durazo has been arrested on two counts of first degree murder, one count of kidnapping, one count of theft of means of transportation, and one count of armed robbery.
Durazo allegedly called for a Lyft, and had Howato drive him to a nearby apartment complex before stabbing her with a kitchen knife multiple times inside the vehicle. He continued to attack her as she fled before stealing her SUV. Police – who were able to track the vehicle and arrest Durazo about 20 miles from the California/Arizona border – believe he planned the attack in advance when calling for ride-share service, though they don't believe Durazo and Howato knew each other personally.
Drivers for ride share companies like Uber and Lyft often face unsafe working conditions. In Arizona, a ride share driver Crystal Welsh told ABC15 that while the news of the murder was devastating she would continue to work with both companies, saying, "You have to to make money. It's part of life."
On Monday, Lyft released the following statement: "We were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of this tragedy, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims. The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority. The passenger's account has been permanently deactivated and we are actively assisting law enforcement with their investigation."
Howato leaves behind a 2-year-0ld and 4-year-old child.