Raymondville man sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder of veteran

My mom was my best friend. When she left, I lost everything, all sense of direction. I wake up in cold sweats almost every night yelling ‘Mom!’ at the top of my lungs. I don’t sleep much.

EDINBURG — Nora Conde Villalobos’ family filled the front row inside a courtroom at the Hidalgo County Courthouse Monday morning as her killer pleaded guilty to the murder of his 49-year-old girlfriend.

Her daughter could be heard crying as the state prosecutor recounted the events that led to Conde’s body being found at Delta Lake where 41-year-old Juan Manuel Tobias dumped her body after the murder.

Tobias was sentenced to 30 years in prison as part of his plea.

Conde’s son, Timothy Soto, was the first to give his victim impact statement, thanking the officers who helped find her while honoring his mother by reminding the court that she was a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Delta Company 3rd Battalion

He told the court what she meant to him and how her loss has impacted his life.

“My mom was my best friend,” Soto said. “When she left, I lost everything, all sense of direction.

“I wake up in cold sweats almost every night yelling ‘Mom!’ at the top of my lungs. I don’t sleep much.”

Soto stated that he has been unable to hold a job due to his emotional distress and recently quit his job as a foreman in the cell phone tower industry as he felt it too dangerous to be working 800 feet high while distracted.

He added that he’s unable to drive by bodies of water without having images of his mother’s decomposing body flashing in his mind.

Soto also said his mother was proud to have served her country.

Raymondville resident Juan Manuel Tobias, 41, stands with his defense attorney, O. Rene Flores, prior to being sentenced to 30 years in prison on March 13, 2023, for the murder of his girlfriend, Nora Conde Villalobos. (Xavier Alvarez | The Monitor)

Conde was scheduled to take a trip to Houston but was reported missing on April 19, 2017, after her daughter reported her absence to police, according to the state prosecutor.

She had been in a rocky relationship with Tobias for nearly two years, during which authorities had been called before due to Tobias’ “jealous” behavior.

In a 2017 interview after Tobias’ arrest, Conde’s sister, Anita, said that Conde “was tired of him being jealous, getting mad, getting into fights.”

Raymondville residents joined authorities in the search for Conde for a month until her body was found on May 23, 2017. She was recovered from the back of Delta Lake in an area off FM 1015 south of Lasara in Hidalgo County.

Anita believes that her sisters’ plans to leave him might have been Tobias’ motive for the murder.

At the end of his statement, Soto described Tobias, who has a history of domestic abuse, as a “menace to society, mentally ill” and not to be trusted, revealing that Tobias had tricked Conde into spending $9,000 in renovations for Tobias’ mother’s home before she was killed.