Most of us have experienced the loss of a loved one. Typically, this happens from old age or sickness. And it hurts. Unfortunately, some families suffer loss at the hands of another – in the form of murder. As a former homicide investigator I have seen this first hand and in some cases it was debilitating. There is no question that it changes lives forever.
Because of this, and because murder is the ultimate crime, it is our (the police) obligation to doggedly investigate these cases until there are no further leads. And we do just that.
The crime of murder has no statute of limitations. That means that unlike most crimes, you can charge someone with murder after ten or twenty years. In fact, as long as the suspect is still alive it doesn’t matter how many years have passed. With technological advances in forensic science we are seeing more of these cases each year. But to get those convictions, someone, somewhere (typically a homicide investigator) has to keep trying to solve the case. It means that he or she never forgot. It is an easy thing to say but a hard thing to do.
At the Yakima police department we have a talented group of death investigators in the Major Crimes Unit. Currently, the unit is staffed by Detective Kevin Cays, Detective Curtis Oja, Detective Matt Lee, and Detective Scott Gronewald. They (and the detectives who came before them) have an impressive 68% clearance rate. The national average is 61% and in major cities the clearance rates are well below 50% (for example, Chicago was at 44% pre Covid). But we aim to clear every case. So we don’t ever forget.
However, cold cases are really hard to solve. If there is not new evidence then typically new leads only come from witnesses who come forward with new information. There are many avenues to do this – one of the best being our partners at Crimestoppers. But anything to prompt folks to come forward is worth exploring.
I am happy to announce that Detective Drew Shaw (a long time homicide investigator and now the department’s police use of force investigator for Internal Affairs) has created an interactive map on our web page with each murder over the past ten years (we will be adding others soon). When a “dot” showing the location of a murder is “clicked” there is a brief synopsis and also a form to provide tips. It is our sincere hope that this additional information and transparency will generate tips on cold cases. I firmly believe that “Someone, somewhere, knows something”.
Here is the list of murder victims and the locations of their deaths for the past ten years. If you have information that will help solve any of these cases, please do the right thing and let us know so that we can bring their families justice.
- Ramon Mejia Cano 10th St / E. Walnut
- Raymond Flores 400 Cherry Ave
- Verenis Ramos 624 N. 4th Ave
- Miguel Chavez-Munigia 1411 S. 1st St.
- Jerene Mata 1809 Greenway St.
- Deprecia Ware 8th Avenue and Spruce St.
- Elidoro Navarro 300 S. 7th St.
- Jesse Marquez 511 S. Naches Ave.
- Manuel Birruetta Sosa 1008 N 20th Ave.
- Jose Romero 1006 S. 3rd Ave.
- Enrique Briggs 1108 Cherry Ave. #D-4
- Shawn Martinez 315 N. 8th St.
- Francisco Tinajero Sarge Hubbard Park (111 S. 18th St.)
- Eddie Abrams 800 E. Spruce St.
- Jared Scroggins 800 E. ‘D’ St.
- Vikram Jaryal 601 E. Yakima Ave.
- Carlos Guerrero 501 N. 4th Ave.
- Cuahutemoc Salamanca 1420 Cherry St.
- Stanley Brader 1615 S. 72nd Ave.
- Raymond Moreno N. 8th St. & E. ‘D’ St.
- Redmond Apodaca 1204 Cherry St.
- Randy Kublic 721 S, 8th Ave.
- Elias Queahpama 800 N. 1st St.
- Michael Frazier 800 W. Chestnut
- Ceasar Ayala 700 S. 9th Ave (E. Alley)
- Jose Tellez Duran 604 E. Race St.
- Omar Flores 1013 S. 6th St.
- Ruben Sanchez 6th Ave. & Gordon Rd.
- Matthew Munoz 700 S. 9th Ave.
- Luis Acosta N. 5th Ave. & W. ‘D’ St.
- Linda Berukoff 800 N. Front St.
- Daniel Brandscomb N. 6th Ave. & Gordon Rd.