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Man arrested and charged with murder in the disappearance of Moses Lake woman

Staff Writer | March 10, 2022 5:03 PM

MOSES LAKE — Police in Hermiston, Ore. have arrested a former Moses Lake resident in the disappearance of 30-year-old Yanira Cedillos of Moses Lake last week.

At a press conference held at the Moses Lake Civic Center on Thursday, Moses Lake Police Department Capt. Mike Williams said Hermiston Police officers arrested Juan Gastelum, 27, a former Moses Lake resident, Wednesday evening.

Gastelum has been charged with second-degree murder and rape of Cedillos, who was last seen late March 3 and very early March 4 celebrating her birthday with friends at Papa’s Casino in Moses Lake, Williams said.

MLPD detectives learned Cedillos received a number of phone calls and text messages the night of her birthday celebrations from Gastelum, with whom she had lived with and been involved romantically, Williams said. Williams also said MLPD determined Gastelum picked Cedillos up somewhere in the 900 block of N. Stratford Road and took her to her apartment.

Cedillos’ family reported her missing on Friday, March 4, after she failed to show up for work.

Williams said that while Cedillos’ body has not yet been found, MLPD detectives collected evidence from her residence at the Heron Creek Apartments in Moses Lake showing Cedillos was killed in her apartment.

“The last evidence we have that she was still alive was a few minutes after midnight, approximately seven minutes after they arrived at the apartment,” Williams said.

Williams said MLPD believes Cedillos is deceased, but added he was not at liberty to discuss the evidence that led the MLPD to reach that conclusion.

Currently, Gastelum, who also goes by the name Johnny Trujillo, is sitting in the Umatilla County Jail awaiting extradition to Washington. Williams said Gastelum was taken into custody without incident and would not comment on the suspect’s criminal history.

Williams also said the MLPD held off on commenting about Cedillos’ disappearance before Thursday because they did not want to tip Gastelum off about the status of the investigation.

“Since last Friday, our detectives and other officers assisting with this case have been working 16 to 18 hour days tracking down leads and searching for Yanira,” Williams said. “We would not and could not risk releasing details that could cause Gastelum to flee or stop cooperating.”

Williams said the investigation into Cedillo’s murder is ongoing, and more information will be made public in the future.

MLPD Chief Kevin Fuhr thanked the Hermiston Police, the Washington State Patrol, the Othello and Quincy police departments, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office as well as the FBI for their assistance in the investigation.

“Were it not for the assistance of these agencies, we would not be as far along in this investigation as we are,” Fuhr said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at The Columbia Basin Herald will continue to monitor this story for any additional information as it becomes available.


Courtesy Photo/MLPD

Former Moses Lake resident Juan Gastelum has been charged with the murder of 30-year-old Yanira Cedillos.