One of the three Pasco residents found dead during the weekend in a rural Benton County cornfield was pregnant, friends say.
Abigail Torres, 23, had moved back to the Tri-Cities recently to try to make a better life for herself after spending time in Texas, and she was expecting a child.
But the chance at a fresh start was cut short sometime Saturday when Torres, David Perez-Saucedo, 21, and Victoria Torres, 19, were killed and left in the field southeast of Nine Canyon Road and Coffin Road.
Friends of the trio are left grieving as they try to figure out what led to the deaths.
“It hurts to talk about my sister and (these) tragic murders,” said Alexa Torres, Abigail’s sister, in a text message to the Herald. “I love my sister. She was a strong, independent woman and I hope the cops do their job and find out who murdered my sister.”
Authorities said they have made “significant progress” since the bodies were first found. However, they haven’t released much information in the past three days as they search for the killer or killers. They won’t say how the trio was killed, if they have identified any suspects or if the homicides are believed to be gang-related.
Officials have called the case “complex” and said releasing details of the homicides could jeopardize the investigation.
“Due to the nature of the case, it’s not prudent for us to release any information,” Lt. Chuck Jones told the Herald.
Autopsies on all three victims were expected to be finished Monday night. Officials first reported Perez-Saucedo was 23, though death records show he was actually 21. The women were not related.
A farmworker spotted two of the bodies sometime around 6 a.m. Saturday. Deputies arrived and found the third body a short time later. A witness at the scene told the Herald that a vehicle was also found nearby.
It’s still unclear how the victims knew each other or why they were together when they were killed. All three were from the Pasco area and at least one may have had ties to a local gang.
Friends told the Herald that there is a possibility the victims were in Oregon hours before the killings. Oregon law enforcement agencies have been working with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office on the case.
Detectives have been working long days trying to break the case open and bring justice to the victims’ families, Sheriff Steve Keane said.
Friends described Abigail Torres as someone who was well-liked in the Pasco community and cared deeply for her children.
“I could see in her that she wanted a better life but it was hard,” a friend told the Herald.
Abigail even admitted to a friend earlier this year that coming back to the Tri-Cities would be a challenge.
“Yea (I) am scared (because) you know how I was and (I) am going back to my hometown to be with my daughter,” she wrote in a message. “(It’s) like (I) am in need of the Lord.”
Victoria Torres lived in Pasco and attended Pasco High School. School district officials confirmed she was registered to be a student in the fall.Perez-Saucedo was born in Mexico and has lived in the Tri-Cities for the past 12 years. A death notice lists his occupation as a laborer.
The triple homicide is the first in Benton County since 2005, when Richard Prather killed his entire family. Prather eventually pleaded guilty to killing his wife, Julie, and two children, Alex, 7, and Alysha, 4. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
A decade before the Prather family was killed, Jeremy Sagastegui killed three people in a mobile home in Finley. Sagastegui was executed in 1998 for murdering Mellisa Sarbacher, 21, her son Keiven, 3, and her friend Lisa Vera-Acevedo, 26.
Before the Finley murders in 1995, there hadn’t been a triple homicide in Benton County for about 30 years.
-- Tyler Richardson: 509-582-1556; email@example.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson