Officials with Arizona's Tempe Police Department revealed during a Monday news conference that Howato, who was in the third trimester of her pregnancy, came in contact with Durazo on Sunday after she responded to a Lyft request from him at roughly 1 a.m. local time. After meeting with Durazo, the pair traveled to a nearby apartment complex located less than a mile from their starting point.
Once at the complex, Durazo began attacking Howato with a kitchen knife as she sat in the driver seat. Durazo continued his attack even after Howato managed to escape from the SUV. He later fled the scene in Howato's 2005 Mercury SUV, which was equipped with GPS locator.
— Briana Whitney (@BrianaWhitney) January 29, 2019
Police and paramedics responding to the scene at about 1:15 a.m. local time found Howato with multiple stab wounds. She and her unborn child were later declared dead after being transported to a nearby hospital.
Using the GPS locator, authorities were able to track down Durazo, who at the time was driving on Interstate 10, some 22 miles from the California state line. To detain him, Tempe Police called upon the La Paz County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Public Safety to execute the arrest.
After being taken into custody, Durazo reportedly confessed to the killing, police said. Presently, he is being held on two counts of first-degree murder, one count of vehicle theft, one count of armed robbery and one count of kidnapping.
"Throughout our careers as officers, we have incidents that really, really touch our hearts and stay with you throughout your careers," Tempe Police spokesperson Sgt. Ronald Elcock said during the Monday conference.
"This is definitely one of those incidents that really is going to affect the police department for a long time, and the community will think about this for a long time. Our hearts right now and our thoughts are with the victim of this incident."
A spokesperson for Lyft told NBC News on Monday that the company was "shocked and deeply saddened to learn of this tragedy."
"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims… The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority," they said. Lyft has permanently deactivated Durazo's account.
Although a motive isn't yet clear in the case, investigators have speculated that Durazo had already planned the attack when he submitted the Lyft request. Officials do not believe the pair knew each other.