Realtor father of four young children MURDERED over eviction dispute with tenants, body dumped in crawl space: Police

Utah police discovered the body of a Salt Lake City realtor in an apartment crawl space on Friday, after he reportedly tried to evict two tenants from the residence the previous night.  

Salt Lake Tribune, citing officials, reports that 40-year-old David Stokoe went to a Salt Lake City apartment on Thursday night where two of three suspects, Manuel Velasquez, 31, and Jessica Reese, 38, resided. The victim reportedly told the tenants to vacate the premises by 6 p.m. that night—the same night officials  believe he was murdered.

South Jordan police said Stokoe, a father of four young children, was reported missing Thursday night. Authorities searched for him the following day at the apartment complex, located “near 900 East and Princeton Avenue.” The search reportedly led police to be “very concerned” regarding the man’s safety.

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Stokoe’s remains were subsequently discovered “in a semi-hidden crawl space.”

Velasquez, Reese, and their reported friend, 30-year-old Diana Hernandez, were arrested following “a short standoff” at around 6 a.m. Saturday, according to police.

Manuel Velasquez, Diana Hernandez, and Jessica Reese [Photo: Police Handout]
Authorities said when Velasquez was questioned regarding the incident, he claimed an altercation had taken place with Stokoe after the landlord “kicked the door” Thursday night, according to court documents obtained by the newspaper. He said the victim placed a “very serious chokehold” on him, and Velasquez reacted by retrieving a handgun and shooting the landlord “multiple times,” according to police.  

Officials said the suspects then tidied up the apartment before concealing Stokoe’s body in the crawl space. Stokoe’s mother told the Salt Lake Tribune that family members doubted Velazquez’s version of events, specifically regarding the altercation the suspect said took place.

Velasquez is behind bars on various charges, including suspicion of murder and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. Hernandez and Reese were both jailed on obstruction of justice charges.

The victim’s family reportedly conveyed in a statement that while the situation has left them heartbroken, they “are remembering Dave the way he deserves to be remembered, as a hero and champion.”

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[Feature Photo: David Stokoe/GoFundMe]