David Stokoe, a real estate agent in South Jordan, Utah, was discovered dead inside a crawl space at the home of two tenants he was trying to evict.
Stokoe, 40, was reported missing on Thursday, January 17, after he failed to return home. Early in the morning on January 19, police revealed on Facebook that Stokoe’s body had been found and that his death was being investigated as a homicide. Salt Lake City police said he had been shot to death.
Three people have been arrested and charged in connection to Stokoe’s murder.
Stokoe leaves behind a wife and four children. A candelight vigil was planned for January 21 at RanLife Real Estate in Sandy, Utah.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Police: One of the Suspects Admitted to Shooting Stokoe, Allegedly During a Physical Altercation
David Stokoe had planned to evict tenants Manuel Velasquez and Jessica Reese, according to court documents obtained by the Salt Lake Tribune. He went to the apartment on January 17 and told the pair that they needed to leave by 6 p.m.
Velasquez and Reese described a violent encounter to police. They alleged that Stokoe barged inside by kicking open the door and put Velasquez in a chokehold. Velasquez told investigators that he had a gun stored in the fannypack around his waist; he reportedly grabbed the weapon and shot Stokoe. Stokoe’s family has denied that David would ever have become violent like that.
According to court documents, Velasquez, Reese and their friend Diana Hernandez are accused of hiding the body in the crawl space and attempting to cover up any evidence by cleaning the apartment.
2. David Stokoe Was Married With Four Young Children
David Stokoe, 40, was a Utah native. He graduated from Brighton High in Cottonwood Heights in 1996. According to his Facebook page, Stokoe graduated from Brigham Young University in 2005, where he majored in business management.
Stokoe worked as a real estate agent. He was working for Ranlife Real Estate at the time of his death. He wrote on his Linkedin profile that he specialized in “residential real estate sales helping families and individuals realize the ‘American Dream’ of home ownership.”
Stokoe was married to wife Nicole. They have four children; three daughters and one son. A GoFundMe campaign was launched to benefit his family. The page reads in part, “We love you Dave and you will be remembered for the giant of a man you were.” Nearly $70,000 was raised in one day.
Stokoe’s brother, Neil, spoke with KTVX-TV about the type of person Dave was. Neil told the TV station, “Dave was my hero growing up. I idolized Dave. Everything he did, he was a very charismatic individual and just loved people. Dave was my hero. Dave was a warrior. Dave was a leader.” Neil explained that his brother always prioritized his kids above everything else.
3. Manuel Velasquez Faces a Murder Charge
Manuel Velasquez, Jessica Reese and Diana Hernandez were all arrested on January 19. Velasquez, 31, is the only suspect charged with murder. According to inmate records, he faces four felonies:
• Obstruction of Justice
• Transaction of Firearm by Class I Restricted Person
• Felony Discharge of Firearm- Shoot in Direction of Person
Inmate records show three prior cases. In 2018, Velasquez was accused of impersonating someone else, which is a misdemeanor. In 2017, there were two traffic violations.
4. Jessica Reese is Charged With Obstruction of Justice & Inmate Records Show Multiple Past Charges
Jessica Reese, 38, faces an obstruction of justice charge for her alleged role in trying to cover up the murder. According to inmate records, she also faces a parole violation. She sometimes uses the last name Miller.
The Salt Lake County records show Reese was known to law enforcement. She had multiple charges leveled against her since 2016, which include:
• Identity Fraud
• Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
• Possession of a Dangerous Weapon by a Restricted Person
• Theft by Deception
• Unlawful possession of another’s identification documents
5. Police: Diana Hernandez Was Accused of Helping Reese & Velasquez Hide Stokoe’s Body After the Murder
Diana Yvette Hernandez, 30, did not live at the apartment where the crime took place. According to court documents, she is friends with the couple and helped to clean the home after Stokoe was shot and killed. Like Reese, Hernandez is also charged with obstruction of justice.
Inmate records show Hernandez’s criminal history includes the following charges:
• Possession or Use of a Controlled Substance
• Retail Theft (Shoplifting)
• Failure to Appear
• Driving with a Revoked License