Suspect in August’s triple homicide booked into Benton County jail

Article author: 
Kristin M. Kraemer
Article publisher: 
Tri-County Herald
Article date: 
Friday, January 16, 2015
Article category: 
Article Body: 

A Umatilla man now is charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder for allegedly shooting three people in a Benton County cornfield last August.

Francisco J. Miranda-Resendiz, 23, was booked into the Benton County jail on Friday. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday.

The bodies of David Perez-Saucedo, 22, Victoria Torres, 19, and Abigail Torres-Renteria, 23, were found Aug. 9 on farmland off Nine Canyon Road, southeast of the intersection with Coffin Road.

The victims all were from Pasco. Torres-Renteria was almost nine months pregnant.

Miranda-Resendiz initially was charged with first-degree murder for Perez-Saucedo, but his charges were later amended to include the two women, who were not related.

Aggravated murder in Washington carries a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release, or death, if prosecutors decide to seek the death penalty.

As of Jan. 16, no one else had been charged in connection to the triple homicide.

Miranda-Resendiz had been in the Umatilla County jail since his Aug. 10 arrest. Benton County prosecutors have waited for extradition paperwork to clear the governor’s offices in both states before transporting him to Kennewick.

Jail records and court documents in Oregon and Washington show different spellings and variations of his last name, including Resendez Miranda.

His bail is set at $1 million. He also has a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.

He entered a plea deal Dec. 1 in Umatilla County Circuit Court to a misdemeanor charge of menacing. The Oregon case was for threatening a fourth Tri-City man who was with Perez-Saucedo, Torres and Torres-Renteria hours before they were killed. Miranda-Resendiz was caught on a surveillance camera outside a convenience store.

The victim in the menacing case claimed he was able to run to safety.

Benton County sheriff’s officials in late August said Miranda-Resendiz’s two brothers and father were wanted for questioning in the homicide investigation.

Fidel Miranda-Huitron, 51, Eduardo Miranda-Resendiz, 24, and Fernando de Jesus Miranda-Resendiz, 19, all lived in the Umatilla area and are believed to have possibly left the country after the shootings.

Court documents show the slayings might have been retaliation for a break-in at Miranda-Resendiz’s apartment the night before. He worked with Perez-Saucedo at a Wyckoff Farms property along the Columbia River in Paterson.

Perez-Saucedo’s group went to Umatilla, possibly to a party, late on Aug. 8. The same night, Miranda-Resendiz was in Umatilla drinking with friends when he allegedly became concerned that Perez-Saucedo broke into one of his Umatilla apartments, documents said.

Witnesses reportedly told authorities that Miranda-Resendiz was a suspected drug dealer.

The victims were later confronted outside the convenience store by the occupants of four vehicles. Video footage shows Perez-Saucedo, Torres and Torres-Renteria being forced into another car, court documents said. One person was seen on the video carrying a weapon.

It is unclear from the court documents what happened next or how the victims got to south Benton County. A farmworker discovered their bodies at 5:30 a.m. the next morning in the field, which is about 15 miles from Miranda-Resendiz’s apartment.

Miranda-Resendiz has denied taking Perez-Saucedo out of his vehicle earlier that night, and told a friend that someone else was responsible for the killings.