EPHRATA, Wash. – President Donald Trump frequently points to undocumented immigrants committing crimes to justify his immigration policy. One county in central Washington could be the poster child for his argument.
In the rural part of Grant County along Vantage Road, a woman walking her dog last month discovered a murder scene the sheriff says he won't soon forget.
“It was probably one of the more disturbing scenes that they had investigated, and they have 70 years of experience between them all,” said Sheriff Tom Jones.
“I will call it an execution type murder. And so that's how gruesome it was,” said the sheriff. “She was face down and on her back was a cardboard with some verbage in Spanish with a knife stuck into her holding the sign.”
During a month-long investigation, detectives learned 31-year-old Jill Sundberg, mother of four, was abducted from the Shady Tree RV Park. The five men that deputies arrested for the murder are her neighbors.
All of them are undocumented immigrants.
While this type of crime is rare, Jones doesn't have to look farther than the jail next door to realize a disturbing trend. Undocumented immigrants make up 10 percent of the inmate population, costing the county almost $1.7 million over the last three years.
And that's just to hold them. Jones said the total cost to the system is much more.
“When we have our investigators investigating these crimes, the manpower it takes, the overtime, and the prosecutor's office, all the resources it takes, it's taxing,” he said.
The sheriff hopes the new Trump administration makes it tougher for deported criminals to return. However, he doesn't believe the immigrant community should have to pay the price.
“Do I believe that there are hardworking people here that are undocumented, and they pay their taxes, and they support their families? Yes, I do,” he said.
But when it comes to the killers of a young mother, Jones believes their fate is already sealed.
“We will do everything in our power to make sure they never see the light of day again,” he said.
Three of the men under arrest face charges of murder and kidnapping. Two are held as material witnesses and face immigration charges.