Murder charges expected to be dropped in stabbing

EVERETT — Murder charges against two women were expected to be dropped Friday while detectives continue to investigate last month’s stabbing death of an Everett man.

Snohomish County prosecutors earlier this month charged Sarah Hellerud and Lathana Neese with first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of Luis Verduzco, 23. The charges were filed in district court and prosecutors had until Friday to refile them in Superior Court.

“Although the investigation is moving forward and detectives have made significant progress, we’re not at a point that we can formalize charges in Superior Court,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Matt Baldock said.

That doesn’t mean that Hellerud, 27, and Neese, 29, were automatically free to leave jail on Friday. They both were being held on unrelated criminal matters, including forgery, mail theft and other property crimes.

The women have denied taking part in the April 24 killing.

Verduzco’s body was discovered outside a vacant house on Madison Street in central Everett. He had been stabbed once in the chest.

A witness told detectives that the suspects met up with Verduzco with plans to rob him of methamphetamine. They lured him to their vehicle under the ruse that they wanted to buy some drugs, according to court papers. As they drove around they attempted to steal his meth. When he refused and fought back, Hellerud allegedly stabbed him, according to a police affidavit. The suspects reportedly pushed him out of the vehicle.

Witnesses reported seeing a bloodied Verduzco walking toward the area where his body eventually was located.

Police on Wednesday caught up with a third suspect after he reportedly shoplifted from a Bellingham mall.

Derek Donnelly, 31, was stopped by a security guard at the Bellis Fair Mall with about $240 worth of stolen merchandise.

Everett detectives had been searching for Donnelly and issued a police bulletin, notifying other departments that he was wanted in connection with the stabbing.

Donnelly eventually is expected to be booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of Verduzco’s death, Baldock said.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;

More in Local News

‘Come talk to me. Don’t jump, come talk to me’

State Patrol trooper Yaroslav Holodkov just happened to be driving by when he saw a suicidal man.

Marysville educators reach out to a newly traumatized school

Several affected by shootings in 2014 offered to talk with counterparts in Eastern Washington.

Hurry! Target will take your old car seat, but not for long

The seats will be taken apart and the various materials recycled.

Sheriff’s Office receives national recognition

Sheriff accepts award “notable achievements in the field of highway safety” over the past year.

Edmonds-Woodway High School briefly locked down

A student tried to stop a fight and a boy, 16, responded by threatening the student with a knife.

Study considers making it legal to grow marijuana at home

The Liquor and Cannabis Board is considering two scenarios for allowing a minimal number of plants.

Minutes mattered the day Pat Ward was brought back to life

The Mukilteo police and fire chaplain died at breakfast. She got a second chance thanks to a waitress.

Cool additions at an elementary school in Everett

A totem pole and new gardens grace the courtyard of Whittier Elementary School.

Kids suspected in school’s smashed windows and other damage

The cost of the damage at Explorer Middle School in south Everett is estimated to be $5,000.

Most Read