Sheriff’s Office arrest second man in connection with triple murder near Kent; others could be involved as well

The King County Sheriff's Office arrested a second suspect Thursday in connection with the shooting deaths of three men in unincorporated Kent and expect at least one more man also could have been involved with the deaths of the men.

The King County Sheriff’s Office arrested a second suspect Thursday in connection with the shooting deaths of three men in unincorporated Kent and expect at least one more man also could have been involved with the deaths of the men.

A 25-year-old Kent man was arrested in the Tukwila area for investigation of three counts of murder and kidnapping and booked into the King County jail in Seattle, according to a Sheriff’s Office media release on Friday.

No charges have been filed yet against the Kent man. He is being held on $5 million bail. Charges must be filed by May 16.

King County prosecutors Thursday charged a 36-year-old Lakewood man with three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 12 shooting deaths of the three Pierce County men whose bodies were found March 10 at a plant nursery off the West Valley Highway.

Alberto Avila-Cardenas, of Lakewood, is currently in federal custody on charges unrelated to the killings. His bail has been set at $10 million.

The bodies of the three men were found by an employee of Rainier Nursery near the West Valley Highway, in the 26200 block of 65th Avenue South. The three men had been shot in the head and then buried. Their hands were bound.

The men are Jesus Avila-Bejar, 25; Yazmani Quezada-Ortiz, 26; and Cristian Rangel, 19. The men lived in Lakewood and Tacoma. They were reported missing Dec. 13 by family members after they did not return home from work.

According to probable cause documents filed Thursday after the arrest of the Kent man, detectives believe the Kent man and at least one other man picked up Avila-Cardenas at his home the morning of Dec. 12 in Lakewood.

Cell phone records of Avila-Cardenas and the Kent man show the two men and other suspect or suspects traveled to the Lake Union florist shop where Avila-Bejar, Quezada-Ortiz and Rangel worked. They waited until the men got off work at about 3 p.m.

Cell phone records indicate Avila-Cardenas and the Kent man and others traveled south, likely on Interstate 5, at around 3:30 p.m. The same records show the men arrived at about 4 p.m. in the area of the Rainier Nursery, and then leaving the about 5:50 p.m.

The records then show Avila-Cardenas, the Kent man and others in the area of the resident of the Kent man, just a few miles from the nursery.

Detectives served a search warrant May 12 on the residence of the Kent man. They found the cell phone used in the Dec. 12 calls as well as a goldish-colored GMC Yukon bearing Oregon plates, expected to be the same vehicle a witness saw when at least two men picked up Avila-Cardenas Dec. 12 at his Lakewood home.

The Kent Reporter is not naming the Kent man arrested because he has not yet been formally charged in the case.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office and the Lakewood Police continue to investigate the case.

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