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Charges filed against 4 in 10-year-old murder case

One arrested; police say whereabouts of other 3 is unknown

Charges were filed Monday against four men, one of whom has been arrested, in a nearly decade-old murder that cold case detectives at the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office say they have solved.

Over the weekend, sheriff's investigators traveled to Missouri to arrest Williams Rodriguez, 28, and they were still looking for three others men charged with first-degree murder in the 1995 Halloween shooting death of Arian Salguero Huerta.

Huerta, 17, and another man were at a friend's apartment near 3900 South and 800 West when three men forced their way into the apartment, demanding drugs and money. The man who lived in the apartment was not home.

Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Kris Ownby said it was a matter of the victims being in the wrong place at the wrong time. After struggling with the would-be robbers, both men were shot. Huerta was killed while his friend survived.

Although detectives said they had good leads at the time, no arrests were ever made.

In September 2004, sheriff's detective Cord Skinner reopened the case.

"He was able to look through the case, identified some suspects and additional witnesses who weren't known at the time," Ownby said.

Skinner retired after the case was submitted to the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office. Another detective, Ben Pender, picked the case up and was able to track down Rodriguez in Gallatin, Mo., outside of Kansas City.

Rodriguez, who has been cooperating with detectives, has waived an extradition hearing and is expected to be returned to Utah soon, Ownby said.

A second suspect was also cooperating and made arrangements to "surrender at the appropriate time," Ownby said.

First-degree murder charges were filed Monday against William Rodriguez, 28, for killing Huerta. Rodriguez was treated for a gunshot wound to his foot that same night, according to court documents.

A second charge, also for murder in the first degree, was filed against three other men, as parties to the offense.

The remaining suspects are Jesus Gandarill Candaria, 45, Rodrigo Ojeda-Gervacio, 32, and Patricia G. Bencomo, 32. Their whereabouts were unknown to investigators Monday. Rodriguez told detectives the last he knew they were still in the Salt Lake area, Ownby said.

The sheriff's office did not release information Monday as to what role each of the men played in the shooting. Investigators also did not comment on why four men were charged, even though only three were believed to have broken into the apartment.

Although the case wasn't a high-profile murder, Ownby said that didn't mean his cold case squad handled it any differently.

"A murder is a murder and we take it very seriously when someone is murdered. We'll make every effort we can to make sure someone is held accountable," he said. "We hope our efforts will provide some kind of closure for the victims' family in the matter."

Ownby said cold cases aren't forgotten — they just take a little more time to solve.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com