Utah Agent’s Homicide Highlights Property Management Risks

January 22, 2019

David Stokoe poses for a portrait with his wife, Nikki, and their four children.

© Courtesy Corrine Stokoe

David Stokoe with his wife, Nikki, and their four children.

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 specific set of dangers that real estate professionals should prepare for to keep themselves and tenants 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, is reminding 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.

He 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.”