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Lakewood man charged with three counts of first-degree murder

Post by Stacia Glenn / The News Tribune on May 12, 2011 at 3:56 pm with 15 Comments »
May 12, 2011 6:37 pm

A Lakewood man was charged today with three counts of first-degree murder in the case of three men who disappeared from work and were found months later buried near a plant nursery in Kent.

King County prosecutors also charged Alberto Avila-Cardenas, 36, with three firearm enhancements in the shooting deaths of Jesus Bejar-Avila, 25, of Lakewood; Yazmani Quezada-Ortiz, 26, of Tacoma; and Cristian Alberto Rangel, 19, of University Place.

He is being held in lieu of $10 million bail and is to be arraigned May 26. If convicted as charged, Avila-Cardenas faces 75 to 95 years in prison. He also is wanted in connection with a murder and dismemberment in Mexico.

King County sheriff’s Sgt. John Urquhart declined to provide a motive for the slayings, citing the ongoing investigation.

“We’re still looking for the motive,” he said. “But they definitely knew each other. This was not random.”

Charging documents lay out Avila-Cardenas’ connection to the victims.

The four men worked together at Lake Union Wholesale Florist, where the three victims were last seen Dec. 12.

Some of the victims’ family members told Lakewood police that Avila-Cardenas had threatened to “get them” in the past because of a 2008 double homicide in Springbrook Park.

In that shooting, Quezada-Ortiz’s cousin was charged with killing two men  over money wagered during a card game. Avila-Cardenas was shot in the ankle. The cousin later fled to Mexico and remains at large.

Lakewood police first began investigating the men’s disappearance after their families reported them missing in December. Quezada-Ortiz’s 2007 Chevrolet Silverada was found days later in Kent. It’s the same vehicle the men used to carpool to and from work.

The victims’ bodies were found in March with their hands bound in front of them with zip ties. Each had been shot in the head and buried near a plant nursery.

Detectives began looking at Avila-Cardenas after Bejar-Avila’s relative received a phone call saying Avila-Cardenas was there before quickly hanging up.

Avila-Cardenas said he was in California when his co-workers went missing but police used receipts and cell phone records to show he’d returned to Washington, according to charging documents.

A search of Avila-Cardena’s home turned up a loaded 9mm handgun in the rafters of his garage. Rangel’s blood was found inside the barrel.

Investigators said they also found Avila-Cardena’s shoe print inside Quezada-Ortiz’s vehicle and on the truck’s gas and brake pedal.

Avila-Cardenas told police he’d bought the gun after the men disappeared and that Rangel’s blood being found on it was “just bad luck,” documents state.

Avila-Cardenas was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun in that case. The charge was dismissed after a federal gun possession charge was brought in February. He’s been in federal custody since.

Lakewood police have said the victims were not involved with drugs and had no criminal records, leaving their families wondering and grieving.

“It hurts me every single time I look at his pictures,” said Rangel’s girlfriend, Getsemani Ortiz-Torres. “The only things that helps me have strength is the baby I’m going to have next month.”

She plans to name the baby Cristian.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. skippythedog says:

    …not one was a citizen. Another example of literally millions of dollars of our tax money wasted on illegal aliens; Police activity, search, trial, public defender, interpreter and then feed, clothe and house this guy for the rest of his life, not to mention the public assistance provided for the survivors and relatives of all involved here.

  2. Mudbone says:

    skippythedog; It is BILLIONS not millions!

  3. Reason_enemy_of_faith says:

    Here’s the real story:

    http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/south_king/ken/news/121739404.html

    Why that rinky dink paper knows all about the motive, but the big Tribune knows jack is beyond me.

  4. Reason_enemy_of_faith says:

    Strike that last comment, the Trib just updated the store with much, much more info.

  5. Brown91 says:

    “If convicted…faces 75 to 95 years in prison.” WHY is the Death Penalty NOT on the table in this case?!

  6. supercoolmomma says:

    skippythedog and mudbone,
    in defense of Christian Rangel is was a citizen,born in the USA!!!!

  7. Mudwhistle_Lightening says:

    OPEN THE BORDERS NOW!!!

    LA RAZA FOREVER!!!!

  8. ppaulville says:

    The media’s better get its act together regarding political correctness. The Tribune calls him a “Lakewood man.” The Seattle Times calls him a “Mexican national.” I’ve yet to see him (or his victims) called illegal aliens, which is what they are. So the police rounded up these guys’ “families” and put them on a bus, right? Right?

  9. Just a thought for one of the other commenters–why would the families report these men missing to the police if they were illegal immigrants? If they were illegal, there is no way they would want to be involved with anyone from the police or government.

    The police have stated that these men were not involved in drugs and had no criminal record, so let’s have a little compassion for the families of these three murdered men, especially the baby who will never know his father.

  10. more of the rich mecxicon culture being exported to amerika. la raza sucka

  11. Kill HIM! Splatter his guts all over the wall.

    IMMEDIATELY!

  12. supercoolmomma says:

    http://universityplace.patch.com/articles/police-built-mounting-case-against-pierce-county-slaying-suspect (this article has more details)

    This is just sad and it makes me more angry reading peoples comments, The families of these 3 guys have endured so much pain. Why does it have to be an issue of “if they were legal”. They were people, Gods creation! These guys were hard workers one had a child,another had a child on the way. Their mothers are left with only memories.

  13. your name says:

    if they are illegal or legal it doesnt matter they do the work that alll you lazy people wouldnt do or are too good to work and would rather live off the system

  14. mariruzlara says:

    ILLEGAL OR NOT, BLACK,WHITE,MIXED WHATEVER THE ISSUE,THESE GUYS WERE KILLED COLD BLOODED AND LEFT THEIR FAMILIES WITH JUST WONDERING WHY! I BET IF ANYONE ONE OF YOU PPL COMMENTING NEGATIVE STUFF, WOULD DO THA SAME AS THESE FAMILIES DID. IS SO EASY FOR YOU PPL TO COMMENT NEGATIVE WHEN NOT BEIN IN THEIR SHOES! YOU GUYS WORRYING ABOUT BEIN IN THE SYSTEM AND ALL, LAST TIME I CHECKED, THERE WAS WHITES,BLACKS,SAMOANS,ASIANS,ETC LIVING UNDER THE SYSTEM AS WELL…SO DONT BE THINKIN THAT ONLY MEXICANS LIVE UNDER THE SYSTEMS,THKIS COUNTRY MAKES ME SICK OF KNOWING HOW MANY IGNORANT PPL THERE IS LIVING HERE!!! MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS GO TO THE VICTIMS FAMILIES!

  15. Yeah, let’s get that DREAM Act passed as soon as possible. This article reads like something out of Ciudad Juarez.

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