SALT LAKE CITY — A South Jordan realtor found dead last week in an apartment he owned spent much of his time showing his family he loved and supported them, his brother said Sunday.
As family members reflected on David Stokoe's legacy, new court filings shed light on the altercation with tenants that police say led to his death.
The real estate agent long balanced his drive in his career with a love of fun and family, helping at times to plan trips to Lake Powell and motorcycle rides, his brother Neil Stokoe said Sunday.
"Those were the things that he was focused on, especially toward the last few years," Neil Stokoe said.
Quick-witted and charismatic, David Stokoe, 40, took an authentic interest in the lives of the realtors he mentored, his brother said. He also often packed his kids' lunches, tucked them into bed and attended their sports games and practices.
When those around him sought advice — whether they were struggling with relationships, addiction or other challenges — Stokoe would respond that "whatever your battle is, fight it well," his brother recalled.
He also had a love of adventure. Neil Stokoe said the two loved racing dirt bikes together and his brother once virtually saved his life, pulling him from the ocean in Hawaii after a tide carried him far from shore.
Salt Lake City police believe the South Jordan father was shot during an altercation over rent with tenants suspected of using drugs. His body was found Friday in a hidden, crawl space-type area of an apartment he owned near Windsor Street and Princeton Avenue.
Friends told detectives Stokoe had gone there to check on a rental property before his disappearance, Salt Lake police said on Saturday. Three people were arrested Saturday in connection with his death: Manuel Velasquez, 31; Jessica Reese, who also goes by Jessica Miller, 38; and Diana Hernandez, 30.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Reese and Velasquez had recently moved into the home Stokoe owned, and Reese told investigators she believed her landlord had violated her rights by coming into the apartment without permission. Reese said Stokoe had told her she was being evicted and needed to get out by 6 p.m. Thursday, according to the affidavit.6 comments on this story
Velasquez told police Stokoe had kicked in the door when he arrived at the apartment on Thursday and had thrown some of their possessions down the stairs, the affidavit states. A physical fight followed, during which Velasquez claimed Stokoe "had him in a 'very serious' choke hold and that he became concerned that he was going to pass out." Velasquez said he pulled a handgun from a fanny pack he was wearing and fired several rounds, killing Stokoe, according to the affidavit.
While Reese and Velasquez both initially told police the other person had cleaned up and disposed of Stokoe's body, they later each said they had done so together, along with Hernandez.
Neil Stokoe said that while his brother's death is a tragedy, it also is an opportunity for those around him to reflect on where they would shift their time and energy if they knew their lives would be cut short.
Contributing: Ashton Goodell