10:34 AM: A month and a half after 15-year-old Derek Juarez-Lopez was stabbed to death in Westcrest Park, police have arrested three suspects.
The Seattle Times first reported last night that an 18-year-old man is in jail, bail set at $750,000. This morning, we have just obtained court documents confirming that – and police have just announced that two other suspects, both juveniles, are in custody too:
Detectives arrested an 18-year-old male and a 17-year-old male separately at residences in West Seattle on Tuesday, October 17th. The adult was booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Murder, while the juvenile was booked into the Youth Services Center (YSC) for the same charge. On October 18th, detectives arrested a 17-year-old female at a residence in West Seattle. She was booked into YSC for murder Wednesday evening. This remains an active and ongoing investigation.
As police said early in the investigation, robbery was the motive, according to the probable-cause documents for the 18-year-old’s bail hearing. He is alleged to have stabbed the victim, who, police were told, was lured into the park so that he could be robbed of marijuana he was allegedly carrying. We’ll add more details as we read through the lengthy narrative in the court documents…
ADDED 11:18 AM: According to the probable-cause documents, the 18-year-old suspect is a South Delridge resident; we haven’t found any criminal record on file for him. The narrative extensively details how police tracked the case. The victim and his family live in Arbor Heights, and he left on the day of the murder with his brother. The brother told police he was driving Derek to meet his girlfriend and dropped him off near 14th/Roxbury. Derek and the girlfriend had been communicating by a social-media messaging service so police had to get a search warrant for his phone, which was recovered, damaged, at the murder scene. Police wrote,”The texts between the two suggested that they were meeting for the reason of the sale and/or use of drugs.” (Marijuana is the only “drug” mentioned in the narrative.) They found the girlfriend and interviewed her the same day Derek died. They say she admitted leading him to an area of the park – near where she lives – where she said three men armed with knives jumped and attacked him, and, she said, she ran away, but didn’t report it to police.
The next day, the narrative says, police received an “anonymous tip” about who was allegedly involved in the murder. They eventually tracked down and spoke with the tipster, who said the victim’s girlfriend did not know that he was going to be killed, but the robbery situation “got out of hand” and that the victim was stomped on as well as stabbed.
It appears from the documents as if one more possible suspect, a 16-year-old boy, has yet to be arrested. Meantime, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office tells us that the 18-year-old suspect is due back in court tomorrow, by which time charges may be filed. We’ll be checking on the juvenile suspects’ status too.