Tenants arrested in death of Utah real estate broker

David Stokoe was serving an eviction notice when he was killed, according to NBC News affiliate KSLTV. Police said three people are now in custody.
Image: Jessica Reese, Manuel Velasquez and Diana Hernandez.
Jessica Reese, Manuel Velasquez and Diana Hernandez.Salt Lake County Jail

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By Kalhan Rosenblatt

Three people were arrested on Saturday in connection to the fatal shooting of a Utah real estate broker who was allegedly killed while attempting to evict tenants from a building he owned, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department and NBC News affiliate KSLTV.

On Saturday, the Salt Lake City Police Department said it had located the body of David Stokoe, 40, a father of four, who went missing two days earlier.

Later that day, the department posted that three people — Jessica Reese, who also goes by the last name Miller, 38, Diana Hernandez, 30, and Manuel Velasquez, 31, — had been arrested.

Reese and Hernandez were arrested on suspicion of obstruction of justice. Velasquez was arrested on suspicion of murder.

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In a statement to police, Velasquez said he and Reese had recently moved into an apartment that Stokoe owned, according to KSLTV. Stokoe allegedly told Reese that the pair had to vacate the apartment by 6 p.m. MST (8 p.m. ET) on Thursday, KSLTV reported.

When Stokoe found the tenants still there on Thursday, a fight broke out, and Velasquez allegedly shot and killed Stokoe, according to KSLTV.

Salt Lake City Police Department did not immediately return an information request made by NBC News about the circumstances that led to Stokoe's death.

Police said when they entered the apartment they saw evidence of a crime but not Stokoe's body.

“Once we began processing that scene, we discovered that secret passage or secret door and then discovered his remains,” said Detective Greg Wilking, of the Salt Lake City Police Department, told KSLTV.

Reese and Hernandez allegedly helped Velasquez hide Stokoe's body, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Stokoe's family released a statement to the Tribune on Saturday night about regarding his death.

“Our hearts are broken over the loss of Dave. This situation is tragic beyond words, but we are remembering Dave the way he deserves to be remembered, as a hero and champion,” they said.

A vigil for Stokoe was planned for Monday evening.