PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A suspect connected to the 2002 murder of Sharon Van Gilder and three rapes in Tacoma was arrested in Mexico.
According to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, Miguel Urbano-Vazquez was arrested on March 14, years after the search for him began. Law enforcement is now working on extraditing Urbano-Vazquez to Pierce County for trial.
In March of 2002, Van Gilder's body was found on the side of the road in the 15000 block of 74th Avenue East in South Hill. No evidence was at the scene - detectives believed the crime occurred at another location.
Detectives at the time spoke to witnesses at a bar in Tacoma and learned Van Gilder was seen leaving with a man. However, as they were investigating, the suspect fled to Mexico and they couldn't obtain a DNA profile.
Fast-forward to 2012 when the Cold Case Unit was created. Now-retired detective Sergeant Tim Kobel learned three rapes occurred in Tacoma around the same time as Van Gilder's death. The suspect was the same as the man seen with Van Gilder.
The DNA profile of all four cases matched and detectives had probable cause to arrest Urbano-Vazquez for homicide.
The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office filed charges against Urbano-Vazquez and issued a warrant for his arrest.
In 2019, the FBI told cold case detective Sergeant Lynelle Anderson they found Urbano-Vazquez in Mexico. Anderson applied for extradition paperwork to detain and deport Urbano-Vazquez.
The paperwork was processed this year and Urbano-Vazquez was arrested for the murder of Van Gilder.
Extradition could take six months or longer, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. Urbano-Vazquez has hearings in Mexico to argue why he shouldn't be deported.