Utah real estate agent found dead in apartment crawl space; 3 arrested, police say
Three people were arrested Saturday after a Utah real estate agent was found dead in a crawl space of an apartment he had visited to collect rent from the tenants, investigators said.
David Stokoe was reported missing Friday by his wife, who called police after the real estate agent didn’t return home from work. Prior to his disappearance, Stokoe, 40, was visiting an apartment in Salt Lake City that was being rented out by Manuel Velasquez, 31, and Jessica Miller, 38, court documents obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune stated.
Velasquez and Miller allegedly had issues with Stokoe because he was “overstepping his legal rights by entering the apartment without [the renters’] permission.”
Stokoe went to the apartment Thursday and allegedly kicked open the door, Velasquez claimed, and a fight ensued, court documents stated. Miller told police Stokoe placed Velasquez in a “very serious” chokehold, prompting the suspect to grab the handgun inside his fannypack and fire at the real estate agent.
Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking said police entered that apartment and “saw things” that indicated a crime occurred, FOX13 reported. They found Stokoe’s body stashed in a crawl space on Friday.
Police located Stokoe’s 2015 Cadillac Escalade on Saturday and arrested Velasquez, Miller and Diana Hernandez, 30, who allegedly helped them clean the apartment after the murder.
Velasquez was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of murder and other related charges. Hernandez and Miller face obstruction charges.
Stokoe’s family released a statement to FOX13 saying they were heartbroken by his death.
“This situation is tragic beyond words, but we are remembering Dave the way he deserves to be remembered, as a hero and champion,” the statement read. “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.”