Murder suspect apprehended thanks to community informers

On April 7 at approximately 4:30 a.m., officers from the Winslow Police Department responded to the stabbing of a man at the La Casitia Apartments on Second Street.

Upon arrival, officers found Julius Yazzie, 30, of Winslow, in critical condition. Yazzie was immediately transported to the Winslow Memorial Hospital where he later died.

Lt. Jim Sepi, Detective Quentin Hayes and Detective Wayne Lesperance headed up the investigation in searching for clues to lead them to a possible suspect.

Later that day, detectives identified two suspects, Mariano Villegas, 28, and Marcos Gutierrez, 29, in connection with the homicide. Officers immediately placed wanted posters throughout town and asked citizens to contact the police department with any leads they might have to the whereabouts of the two suspects.

Detectives followed up several leads from the community and the two suspects were believed to be hiding out in Phoenix. Detectives contacted the Phoenix Fugitive Detail Team. On Sunday, April 4, Phoenix police officers were in full vehicle pursuit of the two suspects.

As the suspects stepped out of their vehicle, Gutierrez, the driver, came out of the car shooting at officers. Officers then returned fire, which left Gutierrez dead at the scene. Villegas surrendered to officers and was arrested on charges of homicide and is currently being held at the Maricopa County Madison Street Jail waiting to be brought back to Winslow where he will faces charges in connection with the death of Julius Yazzie.

Winslow Police Chief Stephen Garnett said he was proud of Sepi, Hayes and Lesperance because they had started with nothing and built a strong case that led them to know who the suspects were. He also said the community played a huge part in the case. "Tips from community helped our detectives determine who suspects were and where to locate them," said Garnett.


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