In Yakima County, Washington, actual property dealer Vernon Holbrook had made a reputation for himself as a beloved household man, a beneficiant member of the neighborhood, and a hard-working skilled who nonetheless pulled 60-hour weeks at age 78.
So it was all of the extra stunning on Might 25, 2013 when Holbrook was discovered viciously crushed along with his throat slashed in a property in Cowiche, Washington that he reportedly had scheduled to indicate on that morning to potential consumers.
Holbrook survived the assault however was left comatose within the hospital, the place family members monitored his precarious progress.
Members of the Yakima County Sheriff’s Workplace questioned and cleared Holbrook’s worker, who had referred to as 911 after discovering the sufferer, they advised Oxygen sequence “Mastermind of Murder.” They searched the crime scene for clues and it yielded a key lead: The sufferer’s cellphone was lacking.
To be taught who he had been set to satisfy on Might 25, investigators obtained entry to Holbrook’s cellphone data. These data revealed that the final individual to talk with Holbrook was Adriana Mendez. The decision had been made that morning within the neighborhood of the crime scene. Holbrook’s household didn’t know who Mendez was.
Investigators decided that Mendez, who was 24 years previous with three youngsters underneath the age of 8, lived in Yakima on the Sunshine Motel, which investigators described as “not precisely four-star lodging.” It was related to prison exercise starting from drug offers to prostitution.
Mendez agreed to make an announcement to Yakima County sheriffs and advised them she’d referred to as Holbrook about promoting a trailer. She’d gotten his number from an ad for his enterprise, Aspen Actual Property.
However when Mendez denied being in Cowiche on the day of the assault, they confronted her with the cellphone log that advised one other story. In addition they mentioned that safety digital camera proof from the Sunshine Motel confirmed her and her three youngsters piling right into a automobile with a person on the morning of Holbrook’s assault.
Mendez named the person as her boyfriend, Luis Gomez-Monges, who had an extended prison file. Going through the prospect of being caught up in an tried homicide, Mendez admitted she and Gomez-Monges, alongside together with her youngsters, had pushed out to the Cowiche property Holbrook was displaying.
She then claimed whereas her youngsters stayed within the automobile, she and Gomez-Monges went inside the home, the place she noticed Gomez-Monges strike Holbrook. She went again to the automobile, and Gomez-Monges returned some minutes later.
Detectives tracked down Gomez-Monges at a on line casino, the place he was arrested and transported to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Workplace. Authorities recovered a blood-stained field cutter from Gomez-Monges’ automobile. It was despatched to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for evaluation to see if it was used within the assault.
Investigators sought to uncover how the couple in custody have been linked to Holbrook. Was another person concerned?
Mendez admitted she’d gotten the quantity from a person named Daniel Blizzard, who’d been serving to her out by paying her lease on the motel and shopping for her meals.
Blizzard, investigators found, was in actual property and had an extended relationship with Holbrook. In 2008, Holbrook, who was able to retire, had even made a handshake take care of Blizzard and agreed to promote him Aspen Actual Property. Holbrook agreed to remain on because the face of the enterprise for a 12 months. Regardless of some preliminary qualms, Holbrook allowed Blizzard to take out a $1.58 million life insurance policy on him as part of the purchase plan.
The deal finally soured when Blizzard didn’t make greater than two funds. Reluctantly, Holbrook took Aspen Actual Property again about 16 months after the deal had been struck.
Investigators pored over the monetary historical past of Aspen Actual Property and located that Blizzard had stored present with the life insurance coverage coverage invoice. This led them to imagine that Blizzard might have been the mastermind of the assault. A evaluation of textual content messages between Blizzard and Mendez earlier than the assault supported that principle. As they dug deeper into the connection between Blizzard and Mendez, authorities realized that they’d met by way of his girlfriend, Jill Taylor, who was divorced from Holbrook’s son, Chad.
Mendez claimed Blizzard was the brains of the assault. She mentioned she felt indebted to him as a result of he was serving to her and her youngsters out financially and that Gomez-Monges was on the verge of being deported. When Blizzard supplied them $10,000 plus a $2,000 bonus to pose as dwelling consumers after which kill Holbrook, they mentioned sure.
When detectives questioned Taylor, she acknowledged that Mendez met Blizzard by way of her. However when officers pushed for solutions about Blizzard’s relationship together with her ex-father-in-law, she clammed up. Authorities, nevertheless, had sufficient proof to guide Taylor for tried homicide.
Blizzard was additionally arrested for first-degree tried homicide. As prosecutors constructed their case, they encountered a serious setback once they realized that the field cutter present in Gomez-Monges’ car was not tied to the crime.
With out that forensic proof prosecutors bolstered their case by turning two suspects — Mendez and Taylor — into witnesses. In return, each ladies acquired lighter sentences. Holbrook’s household discovered that “infuriating,” however acknowledged it as a vital technique.
Eight months after the brutal assault because the trial approached, Holbrook, who’d been left with brain damage after the attack, died from his injuries. Gomez-Monges and Blizzard now confronted homicide fees.
In courtroom, Mendez and Taylor described Blizzard as the one that pulled all of the strings. Taylor, 38, additionally admitted that she thought of poisoning Holbrook however couldn’t undergo with it. That’s when Blizzard recruited Mendez and Gomez-Monges.
Convicted of first-degree homicide, Gomez-Monges, 39, was sentenced to twenty-eight years in jail and Blizzard, 29, to 34 and a half years behind bars. Mendez pleaded responsible to assault and rendering prison help and acquired a one-year sentence. Expenses have been dropped in opposition to Taylor.
Holbrook’s household now remembers him as “a warrior” and acknowledge they’d by no means be the identical due to his horrible dying.
To be taught extra concerning the case, watch “Mastermind of Murder” on Oxygen or stream episodes here.