Suspected Franklin County murder victim’s car discovered at Highway 395 rest stop

Crime scene investigation in Franklin County

Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond provides an update about the investigation of a missing Franklin County woman named Estela Torres Rodriguez.
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Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond provides an update about the investigation of a missing Franklin County woman named Estela Torres Rodriguez.

The SUV belonging to a missing Franklin County woman has been found, but investigators still don’t know her whereabouts.

Estela Torres Rodriguez’s 2006 Buick Rendezvous was found empty Wednesday evening at a rest area along Highway 395, north of Connell, said Sheriff Jim Raymond.

Now investigators are searching side roads along the highway between Pasco and the Hatton Coulee Rest Area for any signs of the 54-year-old woman’s body.

The rest area is at the exit for Highway 26, just north of Connell.

Torres Rodriguez is described as 5-foot-3 and 200 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.

Earlier this week, Raymond asked the public to keep an eye out for the white SUV, believing that maybe her body would be inside.

Judge seals documents

Torres Rodriguez has been missing since March 28, when she was last seen at the 140 Orchard Road home near Pasco she shared with a son and his girlfriend.

Raymond will not release details about what investigators found inside that house or why they have concluded that Torres Rodriguez is dead, only telling the Tri-City Herald there is evidence of a violent attack.

Probable cause affidavits for the arrests of her estranged husband, Tiburcio L. Torres Rodriguez, and one of her sons, Clemente Rodriguez Torres, have been sealed by a judge.

The motion to seal cites the need to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.

The husband and son are charged in Franklin County Superior Court with first-degree murder, meaning they had premeditated intent.

Both the father, 63, and his son, 33, are wanted on $1 million bail. The Prosser men know they are wanted and are believed to be armed, said the sheriff’s office.

Suspect in yellow truck

Tiburcio Torres Rodriguez is driving his yellow 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, with Washington plate C51417N.

He is described as being of medium build and is clean shaven.

His son is reported to be 5-foot-9 and 250 pounds, with a bald head and possibly clean-shaven face.

Investigators have information that Estela Torres Rodriguez’s SUV left her home at some point late last week.

Motorist spotted abandoned SUV

Raymond told the Herald that a motorist stopped for a break at the rest stop on Wednesday, recognized the abandoned SUV from media reports and called police.

Adams County sheriff’s deputies then notified Franklin County, and detectives responded to take pictures and process the scene.

The SUV then was towed back to Pasco, where the Washington State Patrol’s Crime Scene Response Team is going through it for evidence, said Raymond.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Estela Torres Rodriguez or the suspects is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 509-545-3501 during business hours or dispatch at 509-628-0333. Call 911 if it is an emergency.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.