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Utah agent’s homicide shows property management risks

Posted by Editor on January 27, 2019
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 The real estate community is on alert after a broker in the Salt Lake City area was shot and killed last Thursday while reportedly attempting to evict tenants from a building he owned.

Two women and one man have been arrested in connection with the death of David Stokoe, who worked with RANLife Real Estate in Sandy, Utah, and whose body police found Saturday in a “semi-hidden crawl space” in the building, according to reports.

Police have charged Manuel Velasquez, 31, with murder. They’ve also charged two suspected accomplices, Jessica Reese, 38, and Diana Hernandez, 30, with obstruction of justice. Reese and Hernandez allegedly helped to hide Stokoe’s body, police say.

According to a police report, Velasquez said he and Reese had recently moved into an apartment in the building owned by Stokoe, but Stokoe ordered them to vacate the unit by 6 p.m. last Thursday. Police say Stokoe went to the apartment later that night to find the tenants still there. An altercation over rent ensued, and Stokoe was shot. Police also say the tenants were suspected of using drugs.

Property management comes with a set of dangers and real estate professionals should be prepared if they hope to keep tenants and themselves safe – including asking for law enforcement presence when confronting tenants over contentious rental issues.

The Utah Association of Realtors®, along with brokerages across the country, remind members to take safety precautions on the job. “The fear is real, and the danger is real,” UAR President Christy Vail told KSL-TV. “This can happen to anyone.”

Stokoe’s brokerage posted a video to its Facebook page Sunday of a vigil the community held over the weekend to honor Stokoe.

“Dave was a pillar of what to do in this business when it comes to discipline, consistency, integrity and leadership,” says Rob Ockey, co-founder and managing broker for Century 21 Everest, Midvale, Utah. Dave was an agent with C21 Everest before joining RanLife.

Stokoe is survived by his wife and four children, who released a statement to the media: “Our hearts are broken over the loss of Dave. This situation is tragic beyond words, but we are remembering Dave the way he deserves to be remembered – as a hero and champion.”

Source: “Tenants Arrested in Death of Utah Real Estate Broker,” NBC News (Jan. 21, 2019); “Brother of Slain Utah REALTOR® Says he Focused on What Matters,” Deseret News (Jan. 20, 2019); “‘The Danger Is Real,’ Murder of Utah REALTOR® Sparks Safety Discussions,” KSL TV (Jan. 21, 2019)

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