FOLLOWUP: Police believe robbery was motive for 15-year-old Derek Juarez-Lopez’s killing in Westcrest Park; vigil planned

(UPDATED 4:08 PM with new information about victim, how to help family, vigil planned)

(WSB photo – CSI team investigating on Tuesday)

9:46 AM: An update this morning from Seattle Police, one day after a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death at Westcrest Park. Detectives now believe robbery was the motive for the killing. They’re not going into further details so far, and there’s no suspect information to share, but they wanted to get that information out as they “actively pursue leads,” and they are asking again for any and all potentially helpful information – you can call the tip line at 206-233-5000. As reported in our Tuesday coverage, the victim was found by passers-by after walking out of the woods on the south side of the park and collapsing near 6th SW/SW Cambridge. He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, where he died.

4:08 PM: Thanks to the community member who sent this link for a just-established crowdfunding page for the family, on which the victim is identified as Derek Juarez-Lopez. His family has spoken with The Seattle Times; their story says he was an incoming Chief Sealth International High School sophomore, something we had been trying to get the district to confirm, while also asking if a letter would be sent to families. Classes started at CSIHS (and other Seattle Public Schools) today.

4:41 PM: Here’s the letter families have received from Chief Sealth’s principal Aida Fraser-Hammer – note that it mentions a vigil at the park tomorrow night:

There comes a time in the life of every community that events happen that are difficult, painful and outside the scope of our everyday activities in school. It saddens me to start the school year with the news that one of our incoming sophomores died unexpectedly yesterday. I have been in touch with the family to offer support and let them know the school community is thinking of them as they grieve the tragic loss of their son. I’m sending you this letter to update you on the facts, to assure you that we are doing everything we can to support our students, and to suggest ways you may help your children.

Yesterday, you may have heard about a stabbing in West Seattle. We were notified yesterday afternoon that one of our students, Derek Juarez Lopez, was the victim. Derek was going to be a 10th grader this year. When we talked with Derek’s family, they wanted us to know how much he loved his family, school and friends. They also let us know that he was particularly excited about starting the new school year at Chief Sealth and they gave permission to disclose his name so we could be the ones who informed our students and his friends.

Because this happened just yesterday, we all have more questions than answers. We are in close contact with the Seattle Police Department to ensure that we are aware of any new information. At this time, there are no known suspects. As we learn more we will share this information with our students.

When a classmate dies, it may trigger all kinds of expected and even unexpected reactions in our students, especially if the person who has died is a peer or close friend. Today, we brought in additional counseling resources and will continue to provide support as needed for students. . Our students have been demonstrating a great deal of compassion and kindness. I am very proud of how our staff, students and families are supporting each other.

Parents and guardians have important roles in helping students understand such tragic events. We have encouraged our students to talk with their families about their ideas, thoughts and beliefs. Please call us at 252-8550 if we can help in any way. We believe that it is important to understand and respect each child’s experience. We are also discussing personal safety and will continue to discuss this throughout the school year. Your family’s focus on student safety will help reinforce this message.

Our hearts and thoughts go to Derek’s family. The family plans to have a candlelight vigil at Westcrest Park tomorrow at 7:00 PM. As we learn of more ways to support them, we will let you know. Our community is close and having a tragedy such as this occur makes me realize what a wonderful school community we have at Chief Sealth International School. I want to share our staff’s appreciation of your support and patience during our time of grief.

Sincerely,

Aida Fraser-Hammer
Principal

A memorial for Derek is up now at the site where he was found yesterday morning, 6th and Cambridge:

Again, 206-233-5000 if you have any information that might be related to this crime.

THURSDAY UPDATE: We are now told the vigil information was incorrect.

56 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Police believe robbery was motive for 15-year-old Derek Juarez-Lopez's killing in Westcrest Park; vigil planned"

  • Jason Kyle September 6, 2017 (9:50 am)

    My heart breaks for the parents of this boy taken to soon.

    • andy September 6, 2017 (6:09 pm)

      I feel so sorry for Derek and his family. I had a beloved younger brother who was murdered in 1989. I know, first hand, how deeply this hurts. My most sincere condolences go to Derek’s family and friends.   

      • ay September 8, 2017 (8:34 pm)

        Andy: I’m sorry for your loss. Sincerely.

  • Danielle Slota September 6, 2017 (9:58 am)

    Do we know if there are plans for a community vigil? As neighbors I would like for our family to show our support where we can.

    • CSI momma September 6, 2017 (4:52 pm)

      Westcrest park 7:00 

      • Guy Olson September 6, 2017 (5:54 pm)

        Tonight? Wednesday the 6th?

        • newnative September 6, 2017 (8:30 pm)

          The story says tomorrow night. 

  • Neighborhood mama September 6, 2017 (10:05 am)

    Heartbreaking news and then to hear it was a robbery … :*-(  That is our neighborhood park/dog park. I wonder if he was walking to school. Please keep us posted on the case.

    • sherrie September 7, 2017 (3:02 pm)

      School started on WEdnesday at Sealth where he was to be a Sophmore per what i have read. He passed away on Tuesday the day before school started. so sad.

       

  • sam-c September 6, 2017 (10:30 am)

    Unbelievable horrifying.  My heart goes out to the victim’s family.  

  • ScubaFrog September 6, 2017 (11:34 am)

    It’s so sad and senseless.  My heart also goes out to the victim’s family.

  • SG September 6, 2017 (11:48 am)

    enough is enough!!!! We must take back our city! We must be protect our neighbors! We must hold our officials accountable to do their job and keep our public spaces and neighborhoods safe! 

    enough is enough!!!

  • Dick September 6, 2017 (12:28 pm)

    I used to walk my dogs in the woods at that park all the time.  The more of us that used the woods for walking our dogs, the less riff raff there was in those woods.  Then they started policing and ticketing us and scared a lot of people away from walking their dogs in the woods.  With less people using those woods, the riff raff take it over.

    • AJP September 6, 2017 (12:49 pm)

      Easy way to avoid a ticket: keep your dog on a leash. Dogs on leashes in public parks. That’s the law. 

      • Emm September 6, 2017 (8:39 pm)

        Because this is an important point to make right now?

        • DH September 7, 2017 (7:29 am)

          IMHO Based on the original comment, yes, it’s worth mentioning. 

        • LB September 7, 2017 (9:00 am)

          The OP blamed police and the ticketing for off-leash dogs for the increase in “riff raff”

          In other words, “my lawlessness was keeping even worse lawlessness away from the woods in Westcrest Park. “

          Uh…

          The response simply pointed out that you can still walk your dog there,  just have it on a leash and you won’t get a ticket.

          • kcl September 9, 2017 (1:54 pm)

            I see the guy who was upset by the fact that he got ticketed for having his dog off leash outside of the off leash area is appropriately named “Dick”.

    • KBear September 6, 2017 (3:28 pm)

      Dick, if you’ve stopped letting your dogs romp through the woods off-leash, the neighborhood is already safer for it. YOU were part of the riff-raff.

  • M September 6, 2017 (12:31 pm)

    Terrifying. What a horrible event in our community to have a child murdered over an attempted theft. 

  • anonyme September 6, 2017 (1:09 pm)

    This is just horrifying.  I hope the assassin is captured and put away where he never sees the light of day again.

    And the assertion that more law breaking (off-leash dogs) would prevent other crimes (like murder) has got to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read.

  • heylady September 6, 2017 (2:15 pm)

    WSB, I hope you continue to follow this story.  Like Danielle, I would like to show the family support. This is our community. Our children should be safe. Thanks. 

  • Aimee September 6, 2017 (3:32 pm)

    Westcrest has gotten real bad lately.  My sincere condolences to this poor family…

  • Gyngersnap September 6, 2017 (3:37 pm)

    Thank you for the update and please keep up the good work of letting us know as more news unfolds. Sad, sad, sad!

     

    • WSB September 6, 2017 (4:07 pm)

      A community member has sent us this GoFundMe link
      https://www.gofundme.com/derekjuarezlopezfund

      which is the first time I have seen his name. Cross-referencing his name, it brings up a Times story from this morning in which reporter Sara Jean Green spoke with his family:

      http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/robbery-was-motive-behind-deadly-stabbing-of-teen-in-west-seattle-police-say/

      I’ve been trying for hours to get the district to confirm that he was indeed a Chief Sealth IHS student and whether a letter will be sent home … Anyway, adding this above. – TR

      • WSB September 6, 2017 (4:49 pm)

        Also – a parent has forwarded us the district letter, which includes word that the family plans a candlelight vigil tomorrow (Thursday), 7 pm, at the park.

        • Guy Olson September 6, 2017 (5:55 pm)

          Thank you, I was unsure of the date.

        • Gyngersnap September 7, 2017 (1:01 pm)

          Where in the park is the vigil? At the main entrance at the end of Barton St.?

          • WSB September 7, 2017 (1:02 pm)

            The info we published is all we have. The small memorial with the balloons was placed at the spot where Derek was found on Tuesday – 6th/Cambridge – so that’s where we expect it will be; if anyone reading this knows otherwise, please advise. – TR

      • Mike September 6, 2017 (7:59 pm)

        Thank you for posting the GoFundMe link!

      • Susan J. Dino September 7, 2017 (10:15 am)

        The gofundme account was set up by Johnny Jefferson. How is he related to the family of Derek Juarez-Lopez? The funds will go directly to this person and not the family. 

        • WSB September 7, 2017 (11:27 am)

          (a) Donating to crowdfunding sites is always a decision you have to make for yourself. Somebody has to be listed as “organizer.” Grieving families generally don’t do it themselves. You can always report a campaign to the service if you believe there is reason to question it. GFM says they guarantee your donation is going to the right place – here’s their page explaining that – https://www.gofundme.com/guarantee-refund-policy

          (b) There was a different name under “organizer” when we first published this yesterday. I don’t know when it changed to “Johnny Jefferson.” The originally listed organizer e-mailed us directly yesterday (shortly after we already had posted the link), so I have a question out to her.

  • Mark September 6, 2017 (5:18 pm)

    Wow a robery and a young man loses his life.  This simply is wrong and I really hope the SPD catches the perp and that they are prosecuted to the max and spend the rest of there pathetic life behind bars.

    What could a 15 year old have worth his life, a cell phone, $20 bucks, sneakers?  This really needs to see justice done!

  • Tanya September 6, 2017 (6:03 pm)

    The police have their horse barn by there. I saw a few of the police officers who do the horse patrol this past summer and asked why they didn’t patrol the paths back in the park and they said they got complaints from people when they did. People didn’t like being startled by the horses. I wish they would patrol back there. 

  • Mark September 6, 2017 (6:29 pm)

    This is such a sad case, the victim was just entering the prime of his life.  I really hope the police catch the perp and justice is done.

    Losing a child is the worst nightmare for any parent and I could not even imagine the pain they are enduring.

  • Junction Lady September 6, 2017 (8:38 pm)

    Alarming to say the least!  

  • NativetoSeattle September 6, 2017 (9:12 pm)

    Heartbreaking.

  • Gracie September 6, 2017 (9:45 pm)

    I’m sending love and healing thoughts to this child’s family. I haven’t stopped thinking about this since it became news yesterday. I have a son who goes to Cheif Sealth who is the same age. I will continue to pray and hope for a safer community for all. 

    • Wsprayers September 8, 2017 (10:53 am)

      In agreement 100% I have a 15 yr old at Seatlh too-prayers for family friends and our community-

  • Brace point September 6, 2017 (9:56 pm)

    My heartfelt sympathies to his family, his friends. No child in our WS community should have to walk in fear. 

  • ImmaMom September 6, 2017 (11:26 pm)

    Heartbreaking.    

    lets make sure this family gets the funds needed for this very unexpected funeral and their medical expenses.  

    I’m donating to the go fund me and I hope you will too.  

  • Carmel September 7, 2017 (12:01 am)

    Unimaginable pain and sadness! I feel so sad for the poor boy… the horror he saw being stabbed and bleeding…. the pain he endured at such a young age… heartbreaking!!!

  • Wsrez September 7, 2017 (12:33 am)

    As far as suspects go, I wonder if there is a connection to suspects robbing kids of their electronics before and after school a few years ago. It was covered by wsb but I don’t know if anyone was ever caught.

  • CD September 7, 2017 (12:41 am)

    So. If you don’t think the “Meyers Way Problem,” has anything to do with this, than please re-bury your head wherever it has been. I pay a mortgage. I have a job. I was told, just last week, by a King Co. officer, when I dialed 911 for the second time in one evening to complain about the gentlemen parked in their, unmoved for a week vehicle, (whom BTW, I did NOT complain about until I came home one night and a party was going on in the cab of said truck) that I should close my windows and turn on some “white noise,” and that they would move tomorrow. So. Now what. Drive up the 509 from 1st ave S bridge to Burien. I am a compassionate and caring person, but it seems to me the people who are taking over our trails and green belts for 21st century homesteading either don’t want to be a part of society or are plagued by mental health and drug issues and pushed aside due to lack of funding or politics or what I’m not sure. This is happening. Won’t be taking my dogs to walk anywhere near there nor the playground they just built near there with my kid. This sucks. And BTW the said mortgage I pay is literally between Meyers Way and Westcrest, so I am invested and pissed off!!! Everybody should be  empassioned to the point of action!! So sorry for the Juarez family. I can’t imagine being in their position. There are no words that can console the loss of a loved one let  alone a child. I hope the public attends the vigil to show support for the family as well as a show of support for our community. 

  • KMA September 7, 2017 (12:08 pm)

    Johnny Jefferson is a youth community organizer with ” Communities in Schools” .

    He has been at Chief Sealth for several years.

    Just wanted everyone to be aware that the GoFundMe page is totally legit.

    • WSB September 7, 2017 (2:18 pm)

      Thank you. I also just heard the same thing in the reply from Gretchen, who was originally listed as the organizer – she also works at Chief Sealth and that’s how they are in touch with Derek’s family. – TR

      • WSB September 7, 2017 (2:46 pm)

        … and Gretchen added one other thing: She just met with Derek’s family and they told her they actually had a vigil last night, and that there’s not one tonight, so that information from the principal’s letter was apparently incorrect. – TR

  • Bonnie Wells September 7, 2017 (2:55 pm)

    If anyone hears what day a Memorial Service will take place could it please be posted on this blog?

  • Sam-c September 7, 2017 (9:10 pm)

    Up in the “spotlight stories” the brief article link says, “teen killed in park”.  Honestly, i feel like, “teen murdered in park” would be more accurate.  Please continue to update the community on the search for this child’s murderers.    Still can’t believe what his family and friends are faced with.

    • Breanna Whited September 16, 2017 (6:58 am)

      I agree. It was cold-blooded murder. There will never be another beautiful soul like Derek.

       

  • Ari September 8, 2017 (7:28 am)

    I would feel much better if the police had something to report.  Don’t let this horrible crime go cold.  I think it would help everyone to know there is a suspect(s) and things are moving forward to prosecute him/her/them.

  • Elijah September 8, 2017 (9:50 pm)

    This made my stomach turn I’m sad that this happens so close to home they say robbery that doesn’t matter this is murder who ever did this could do that again and might have before. The community needs to come together and prevent this type of violence. I’m deeply angry that I have to hear about something on the first week of school. This is a wake up call our neighborhood is not safe. Drugs addicted people roaming the street gang’s from anywhere approaching youth in cars. And intimidating people hanging around Westwood. Using the park as a drug and theft hub. 

  • Neighborhood mom September 11, 2017 (12:11 pm)

    Have there been any new developments on this case? The victim and his family have been on my mind. I live in the neighborhood and it is scary knowing the killer is still on the loose. Thank you.

  • E September 12, 2017 (5:35 am)

    I would like to know of any developments as well.  I’ve heard from my son what kids are saying at school but I’d like to hear of any progress the police have made.  It’s just so awful.  I hope his family is ok and I hope the murderer is caught and locked up forever. In my mind they’ve actually forfeit their right to be alive.  

    • WSB September 12, 2017 (6:31 pm)

      All police will say is that it remains an active and ongoing investigation. I asked again today. It’s generally impossible to get anything until and unless there’s an arrest, unless there’s a situation in which public help is needed to find someone, etc.

  • Winbo September 12, 2017 (8:21 am)

    We have the Mayors and the incredible city council that we have voted in to thank for encouraging the drug infested homeless into our city and parks and not coming up with a much better solution.    Thank you Mayor Murray & city council for encouraging them into WS and the surrounding areas.  You have outdone yourselves!  These crimes are becoming a norm now.   For god sakes- he was 15 years old.  This crime is outrageous and unnecessary.   My family walks our pup through there- and now we need to feel threatened to walk in that park?  This is absolute crap and should not become a norm in our city.  I think the city council should be held liable for encouraging this and not doing a damn thing to stop these senseless crimes. 

    To the family:  I am so sad and sorry for the loss of your son- what a senseless and tragic crime.  My heart goes out to your family. 

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