A Salt Lake City landlord mysteriously disappeared after leaving for an appointment where he was scheduled to evict some of his residents for non-payment. Police investigating his disappearance were eventually led to the victim’s body in a secret room of one of his properties.
Now, three suspects, all former tenants of the victim, have been taken into police custody under the suspicion of participating in the murder of 40-year-old David Stokoe. Stokoe leaves behind four children who are broken-hearted over the loss of their father.
Police initially became suspicious when Stokoe’s family reported him missing just one day after he was supposed to evict some tenants. According to the family and witnesses, Stokoe was never seen leaving the residence, so authorities focused their attention on the apartment.
Investigators searched through the apartment and found evidence of a struggle in which someone was likely seriously injured. They also discovered a secret door that led into a small crawl space. Upon entering the hole, they found the deceased body of Stokoe. He had been shot to death.
Police tracked down the suspects on January 19th. 31-year-old Manuel Velasquez was charged with suspicion of murder, and two additional suspects were charged with obstruction of justice.
Authorities believe that Velasquez and Stokoe got into a verbal altercation over the eviction notice before Velasquez lost control and killed Stokoe. The two additional suspects, 32-year-old Diana Hernandez and 38-year-old Jessica Miller, allegedly helped the perpetrator clean up the apartment and hide Stokoe’s body.
Velasquez alleges that Stokoe showed up at the apartment and kicked the door in. He claims the victim then put him in a “very serious” chokehold, which prompted the suspect to pull out his firearm. He claims he shot Stokoe in self-defense.