Tuesday, April 13, 2010

YPD probes farm workers' murder

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A 24-year-old farm worker was found shot dead in his home Sunday night and authorities say his girlfriend and vehicle are missing.

Mariano Guzman Moedana died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head, said Yakima County Coroner Jack Hawkins.

He had already been dead for more than a day when a roommate found the body on the floor of his room at their apartment in the 1100 block of North Fourth Street, authorities said.

Yakima police Lt. Mike Merryman said it's too early to call the girlfriend a person of interest or a suspect in the homicide.

"Obviously, we need to talk to her. But we don't want to jump the gun," he said. "She could be a victim, too."

Merryman said there had been no reports of gunfire in the area in the days before Guzman Moedana was found.

Neighbors described him as calm and hard working. They said Guzman Moedana was from Pachuca, the capital city of Hidalgo state in central Mexico, and had been living with two or three other farm
workers in the same apartment complex for about three years.

Guzman Moedana's relatives in Mexico have been notified, authorities said.

Yakima police continue to investigate, Merryman said.

"We have no suspects and nobody under arrest," he said. "Hopefully we make an arrest soon.

His death marks the city's seventh homicide and the 10th in Yakima County so far this year.

"Our numbers are about the same as last year," Hawkins said. "I was really looking forward for the year to end so we can slow down.

This time last year, nine homicides had been recorded countywide. A total of 25 homicides were recorded in 2009.

* Melissa Sánchez can be reached at 509-577-7675 or msanchez@yakimaherald.com.

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