Crime

Wife was killed with the gun under her husband’s pillow. He intended to shoot her, say officials

Murder suspect Silvestre Rojas Fuentes appears court

Murder suspect Silvestre Rojas Fuentes Sr., 55, who is accused in the shooting death of his wife, Graciela Gomez, appears in Benton County Superior Court. The Prosser man is charged with first-degree murder.
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Murder suspect Silvestre Rojas Fuentes Sr., 55, who is accused in the shooting death of his wife, Graciela Gomez, appears in Benton County Superior Court. The Prosser man is charged with first-degree murder.

A 51-year-old woman was shot three times with a .45-caliber pistol, the same kind her husband kept under his pillow, prosecutors say.

Graciela Gomez was found in her Prosser home alone and bleeding Saturday night.

Her son immediately called 911, but sheriff’s deputies and paramedics were unable to save her.

Now, husband Silvestre Rojas Fuentes Sr. is charged in Benton County Superior Court with first-degree murder.

Prosecutors allege Fuentes acted with premeditated intent in his wife’s death.

A nationwide arrest warrant was signed this weekend by Judge Carrie Runge, and detectives tracked him down less than 24 hours later in Union Gap.

Suspect claims he’s a victim

Fuentes, 55, denied killing his wife in a Sunday evening phone call to his daughter, shortly before his capture.

The daughter told sheriff’s Sgt. John Schwarder that her dad claimed that two people broke into their house and shot Gomez, and put a bag over his head, court documents said.

Fuentes is locked up in the Benton County jail on $500,000 bail.

A news release and jail records show his name as Silvestre Rojas Fuentes, while court documents show Rosas Fuentes.

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Silvestre Rojas Fuentes Sr., 55, was arrested Sunday night at Main Street and Ahtanum Road in Union Gap on a first-degree murder charge for the shooting death of his wife.

According to those court documents, the couple’s son left their 17108 N. 1083 PR NW home about 4 p.m. Saturday.

Both of his parents were there at the time, along with his dad’s red 1989 Ford Bronco. No one else was at the house, he said.

.45-caliber pistol missing

The son returned more than five hours later and noticed the Ford was gone. He then discovered his wounded mother on the floor inside.

He called 911 at 9:48 p.m. and Deputy Cody Roberts arrived within five minutes, documents said.

The son said that his dad wasn’t home when he found his mother, and that his dad kept a .45-caliber pistol under his pillow.

The pistol also was missing, court documents said.

Investigators and “numerous family members” made exhaustive efforts Saturday into Sunday to find Fuentes and the car, but were unsuccessful. That’s when detectives applied for the search warrant.

Neighbor heard 3 gunshots

A next-door neighbor told Detective Lee Cantu that he heard three shots at 8:30 p.m., and looked out the window to see the Ford parked outside.

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Detectives are trying to find a 1989 Ford Bronco that belongs to murder suspect Silvestre Rojas Fuentes Sr. The Ford, with Washington license plate BAP2794, is believed to be somewhere between Toppenish and Union Gap. Benton County Sheriff's Office

The neighbor said he “did not think much of the gunfire, because Fuentes Sr. is known to shoot into the air to scare off unwanted animals,” documents said.

In a later search of the family home, detectives reportedly found three .45-caliber casings — the same kind as Fuentes’ missing pistol.

Early Sunday evening, the sheriff’s gang team happened to be on duty and got word that Fuentes was in the Union Gap area. He was captured at 8:15 p.m. at Main Street and Ahtanum Road in the city, just south of Yakima.

Jail records show he was booked in at 10:40 p.m.

The Benton County sheriff’s team was helped by Washington State Patrol troopers and police officers from Union Gap and Yakima.

Ford Bronco missing

While investigators tracked down Fuentes, a news release says they’re still looking for the Bronco that is registered to the suspect’s daughter.

The Ford is described as painted red with a cream-colored top. The Washington license plate is BAP2794.

Investigators believe the car is somewhere between Toppenish and Union Gap.

Anyone who finds the car is asked to call non-emergency dispatchers for the Benton County Sheriff’s Office at 509-628-0333.

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.
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