The body of a Utah real estate agent was found stuffed in a crawl space of an apartment which he’d gone to while trying to collect rent from its tenants.
Real estate agent David Stokoe, 40, of South Jordan, Utah, was initially reported missing by his wife, Nikki, on Thursday, when he didn’t return home from work that day.
According to court documents obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune, Stokoe had gone missing after traveling to an apartment in nearby Salt Lake City to collect rent from Manuel Velasquez, 31, and Jessica Miller, 38.
Real estate agent David Stokoe, 40, was reported missing by his wife Thursday and found dead in a crawl space on Friday after trying to collect rent from the apartment’s tenants
Police said the married father of four had tried to evict the tenants from the apartment when he was fatally shot
After searching the city for Stokoe, a married father of four, police said that they learned late Friday night that Stokoe never left the apartment he’d gone to.
They then found his body in a crawl space in the apartment. He was said to have been shot.
Authorities then started searching for Stokoe’s missing Cadillac Escalade, as well as for Velasquez and Miller, who were not at their apartment.
The Salt Lake City SWAT Team eventually located Velasquez and Miller, as well as their friend, Diana Hernandez, 30, outside another Salt Lake City apartment on Saturday at about 6am.
The three were taken into custody after a stand off.
Velasquez was booked on suspicion of murder, obstruction of justice, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and a felony-level discharge of a firearm offense. Meanwhile, Miller and Hernandez were booked on allegations of obstruction of justice.
Police arrested tenant Manuel Velasquez, 31, who allegedly shot Stokoe during the argument
Tenant Jessica Miller, 38 (left), and friend Diana Hernandez, 30, were also arrested
Police said that after Stokoe was killed the three people who were arrested cleaned the apartment and hid his body inside a crawl space
Stokoe’s body was said to have been found in a crawl space in an apartment in this building
Stokoe’s Escalade was found two hours later, although police said that it didn’t not appear that the two people inside the car were connected with Stokoe’s death.
Police believe that Stokoe was killed on Thursday while he was at the apartment trying to collect rent from Velasquez and Miller.
Court documents revealed that Velasquez and Reese had problems with Stokoe because they believed that he has entered the apartment they rented from him without their permission, thereby ‘overstepping his legal rights.’
Stokoe was said to have told the pair that he was evicting them on Thursday morning and that they needed to be out of the apartment by 6pm that night.
Velasquez — who is said to have been convicted of multiple felonies since 2008 —allegedly told police that he and Stokoe got into a fight when Stokoe returned to the apartment in the evening.
During the fight, Stokoe allegedly kicked open the door and put Velasquez into a ‘very serious’ choke hold, at which point Velasquez pulled out a handgun from a fannypack he was wearing and used it to shoot Stokoe multiple times.
Court documents claimed that Miller, Velasquez and Hernandez proceeded to clean the apartment and hid Stokoe’s body in the crawl space.
Salt Lake City police detective Greg Wilking told Deseret News that Velasquez, Miller and Reese are drug users, but that Stokoe was ‘innocent’ and ‘didn’t have anything to do with the drug world, but just happened to be interacting interacting through renting an apartment with people who were involved with the drug world.’
Stokoe’s family said in a statement obtained by Fox 13 that their ‘hearts are broken over the loss of Dave’ and that ‘This situation is tragic beyond words, but we are remembering Dave the way he deserves to be remembered, as a hero and champion.’
The family also stated, ‘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.’
A GoFundMe has been created, asking people to donate money instead of sending flowers to Stokoe’s wife and four children so they can use the cash for ‘whatever needs they might have to come with this tragic loss.’
‘We love you Dave and you will be remembered for the giant of a man you were. God be with you til we meet again,’ the GoFundMe description stated.
So far $62,990 of a $75,000 goal has been raised.