– Moses Lake, WA
The Moses Lake Police Department provided an update on the disappearance of a 30-year-old Moses Lake woman Yanira Cedillos who went missing last Friday. MLPD Chief Kevin Fuhr said the Police department is continuing to work with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Sheriff’s Office, Othello Police Department, Quincy Police Department, Washington State Patrol, and Hermiston Police Department, the U.S. Federal Bureau Investigation, and Homeland Security.
Captian Mike Williams stated that 27-year-old Juan Gastelum of Hermiston, Oregon was apprehended the evening of on March 9th in Pendleton Oregon without incident and is currently in Umatilla County Jail awaiting extradition back to Washington. On March 4th, around 10 am officers responded to the Heron Creek apartments on Ninth Ave. for a missing person’s report. Officers learned that Yanira Cedillos had been out celebrating her birthday the night before at Papa’s Casino just north of downtown. Witnesses said that throughout the night, a man she used to live with had been calling, texting, and snapping her dozens of times asking what she was doing, and who she was with.
According to the police department, Shortly before midnight, as Yanira and her friends were in the parking lot of Papa’s Casino, an argument broke out among the friends, and Yanira left on foot, she began to walk southbound on Stratford Road. A short time later, she called a friend and asked to be picked up in the 1000 block of Stratford Road. When the friend arrived a short time later, the friend was unable to locate Yanira. When the friend called Yanira back, the friend could hear a male in the background yelling, and asking who was calling and the phone was disconnected. A moment later, Yanira called the friend and assured the friend that she was ok. according to Captain Williams, this was the last anyone had heard from Yanira. When she didn’t show up to work on Friday, her family reported her missing.
The case was turned over to detectives immediately for investigative follow-up. Detectives were able to determine that Gastelum had picked Yanira up from the 900 block of North Stratford Road, and took her back to her apartment at the Heron Creek Apartments, located on 222 E. 9th Avenue in Downtown Moses Lake. They arrived at the apartment a few minutes before midnight. Captain Williams stated Detectives obtained evidence showing that Yanira was killed in her apartment, and her body was moved post mortem. according to MLPD, the last evidence the department has is that she was alive a few minutes after midnight, approximately 7 minutes after they arrived at the apartment.
Gastelum left the apartment in the early morning hours of Friday, March 4th, and drove around the Moses Lake area for a period of time. He was caught on video about 7:30 am cleaning his car out and disposing of evidence at a local gas station. This evidence was later recovered by detectives. Gastelum was contacted by detectives and was initially cooperative with the investigation.
Law Enforcement has yet to locate Yanira, Captain Mike Williams said in a press conference
“we continued to develop the case and keep Gastelum out of jail in the hopes he would lead us to her. Yesterday, after the warrant was issued, he was taken into custody without incident… to date, we have not located Yanira, although detectives have spent countless hours searching potential areas in an effort to bring Yanira home. We are still awaiting the results of search warrants and electronic data analysis that may narrow the search area or give us new areas to search. If, and when those areas are identified, we may be reaching out to the public to assist in the search for Yanira.”
Many were beginning to question why the department wasn’t providing regular updates to media outlets and the public. Captain Williams said
“Our priority since this case began was to bring Yanira home, and assure justice is served on her behalf. Since last Friday, our detectives and other officers assisting on this case have been working 16-18 hour days tracking down leads and searching for Yanira. We could not risk releasing details that could cause Gastelum to flee or stop cooperating.”
The Police department stated that Gastelum unknowingly provided key evidence in this case, and it is doubtful he would have continued to do so had he been reading about it in the evening news. MLPD said they have a legacy of transparency, and good relations with most of the local media, which will continue however in cases during an ongoing investigation, it would not have been responsible for us to release information until Gastelum was in custody and Yanira’s family was briefed.
This is still an ongoing breaking news story, and more information will be released as it becomes available.
Article Source: MLWA 7