Police Make 3 Arrests in Murder of South Jordan Realtor
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Salt Lake City arrested three people who they said were connected to the death of South Jordan realtor David Stokoe.
Police arrested Manuel Velasquez, 31, for investigation of murder, Jessica Louise Reese, 38, for investigation of obstruction of justice, and Diana Hernandez, 30, for investigation of obstruction of justice. Reese uses the last name “Miller” as an alias.
According to a probable-cause statement from Velasquez’ arrest, he and Reese had recently moved into an apartment Stokoe owned at 878 East Princeton Avenue.
Friends told police Stokoe had been having problems with the tenants.
According to the probable-cause statement Reese said she thought Stokoe had overstepped his legal rights by going into the apartment without her permission.
Police said Reese told them Stokoe told her she had to be out of the apartment by January 17 at 6:00 p.m.
Police said Velasquez told them when Stokoe came to the apartment that day, they got into a fight. Police said Velasquez told them Stokoe “kicked in” the door and got into an argument with Reese, then into a physical fight with Velasquez.
The probable-cause statement says Velasquez told investigators Stokoe had him in a “very serious” choke hold and he thought he might pass out.
Investigators said he told them he was wearing a fanny pack with a handgun inside and that he used that gun to fire several shots into Stokoe, killing him.
The probable-cause statement says Reese told investigators that she, Velasquez, and Hernandez cleaned up the scene and Stokoe’s body.
Stokoe was reported missing to South Jordan Police. On Friday, South Jordan Police contacted Salt Lake City Police, who went to check out the rental property. They said they discovered evidence of a crime scene, but did not find Stokoe’s body until later in the evening.
“Once we began processing that scene, we discovered that secret passage or secret door and then discovered his remains,” said Detective Greg Wilking, of the Salt Lake City Police Department.
Wilking said investigators worked on leads in the overnight hours. Around 6:00 Saturday morning, Wilking said investigators tracked leads to the South Parc Townhomes in South Salt Lake. He said they called out their SWAT team and arrested the three.
Late Saturday evening, Stokoe’s family issued a statement saying, “Our hearts are broken over the loss of Dave. This situation is tragic beyond words, but we are remembering Dave the way he deserves to be remembered, as a hero and champion. We know we will see him again someday, and that families are forever. We are choosing to focus on the love we feel from everyone, and the love we feel for Dave, rather than resentment surrounding the circumstances of his death. He’s cheering for us, watching over us, and wants us to love life and love each other. We are so grateful for the overwhelming love and support we’ve received through prayers, service, emails, posts, and texts. We feel your prayers and appreciate the outpouring of love and charity from friends, neighbors and strangers.”
Family members have started an online fundraiser to help with expenses for Stokoe’s family (https://www.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-dave-stokoe). He was married with four young children.
Salt Lake City Police say they are always available to accompany people to a certain location who feel they are in a situation where they feel unsafe.
“We’re always willing as police to go on situations in what’s called a standby assist where we’re keeping the peace,” Det. Greg Wilking with Salt Lake Police Department said.
Wilking says calls like this are fairly routine for them. So if you are a landlord, or need to retrieve property, or even exchange children in a child custody situation, don’t hesitate to call police.
From Patrol, Detectives and Crime Lab, the @slcpd worked this case with relentless #tenacity and #dedication to bring #justice for David Stokoe, and hopefully, in time, closure for his family and loved ones 😞 https://t.co/zQe3dpTEJY
— Chief Mike Brown (@ChiefMikeBrown) January 20, 2019