2017 violence trend shows local homicides are up from last year
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- With 13 murders so far this year, Yakima County could surpass the 24 homicides from last year.
It's a violence trend authorities are actively fighting, but still no suspects have been arrested in most of these murder cases.
Authorities said despite making only two arrests, detectives are still actively investigating all of the homicides and have made progress with some. However, they are urging the community to share anything they know.
Two back-to-back murders this month stunned the community.
Authorities are still piecing together the recent death of 59-year-old Stan Brader, who was beaten to death at his West Valley home Sunday, June 4.
“We have a person of interest that we'd like to talk to, but we haven't ruled out the possibility that more people were involved,” said Yakima Police Department (YPD) spokesperson Mike Bastinelli.
Just two days before, deputies arrested 44-year-old Jaime Munguia-Alejandre for reportedly killing his wife and burning her body at their Granger home.
“It was actually the children that found the smoldering remains outside even before law enforcement ever arrived on scene,” said Sergeant Mike Russell of the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO).
But authorities said they don't always get such breaks in a murder case.
Police said neighborhood surveillance video and a witness coming forward led to the arrest of 23-year-old Luis Barrera, who has been accused of shooting 14-year-old Kabin Smith in April.
“There's just nothing conclusive on that end at this point,” said Sgt. Russell about both cases.
Detectives are asking the community to share any information as they chase down leads and tips.
“Some of these cases we have some forensics and ballistics to work off of,” said Bastinelli.
Of the 13 murders to date, 10 have been in the city and three in the county. Those numbers are up from June of last year, where there were eight murders in the city and two in the county.
“We're working behind the scenes to not only identify suspects but to also build a case,” said Bastinelli.
Investigators are still looking for a male and female suspect in the West Valley shooting of 26-year-old Noel Moctezuma in February.
Most of the cases have been challenging to crack without the public's help.
“It's vital that people come forward,” said Bastinelli. “Without sounding like a broken record, every one of these homicides someone knows something.”
There are some big rewards that have been offered for tips leading to an arrest in these murders.
Yakima County Crime Stoppers gives $1,000 per case and information can be reported anonymously.
$9,000 has been offered in the AM/PM robbery that killed 25-year-old Vikram Jaryal in April.