Tacoma murder suspect returned to U.S. after decade on the run
TACOMA, Wash. - A former Tacoma man wanted for investigation of second-degree murder has been returned to Washington state after more than a decade on the run.
The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office says 32-year-old Jesus Richard Mederos was arrested last year in Cuernavaca, in the Mexican state of Morelos, to face charges in the shooting death of 18-year-old Robert Tapia in October 2006. He also faces a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Mexican authorities transferred Mederos to the custody of the FBI on Thursday and he was booked into the Pierce County Jail.
The murder happened at the intersection of 36th and East K Street in East Tacoma. Tapia was sitting in his girlfriend's car. Charging papers say there was an argument of some sort between Tapia and Mederos when Mederos fired a shot into the car killing Tapia.
"it was really scary," said neighbor Vickie Padron back in 2006. "I just didn't want to get my kids scared by going outside to check it out. I just told them, 'oh no, it's OK., it's OK.'"
Mederos disappeared, but cold case detectives didn't give up. They tracked him and with the help of the FBI and Mexican government arrested him in Cuernavaca more than 2,300 miles away.
"I think it's very significant," said cold case Det. Steve Reopelle with Tacoma police. "It sends a message out to everyone who tries to flee from justice that we're going to pursue you even as far down as the center of Mexico."
"This is an example of how persistent we will be in holding people accountable," said Pierce county prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "I think it sends the right message."
He is being held on $5 million bail.
Now that Jesus is in jail, detectives really want to go after his brother Santiago who is wanted for two other murders. He is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list. One of the murders involved Camille Love in 2010 when she and her brother were mistaken for gang members.