Two women arrested for 2016 Grant County killings

The Grant County Sheriff's Office reports two women are in jail Wednesday in connection to the December 9, 2016 homicide along State Route 26 near Royal City, and alleged additional suspects are connected to the December 26, 2016 killing of Jill Sundberg near George.

Eustolio Campuzano, 27, and Paula Rodriguez Cuevas, 29, are in the Grant County Jail for suspicion of first degree assault.

Both women came to the attention of detectives investigating the shooting death of 28-year-old Arturo Sosa. That shooting also critically injured 33-year-old José Rafael Cano Barrientos, both of Othello.

According to a probable cause statement submitted to the Grant County Prosecutor, detectives described the following: Campuzano was the ex-girlfriend of Sosa, and had expressed to Cuevas her anger that Sosa had allegedly treated her badly and hit her while they were together as a couple. Cuevas asked Campuzano why she (Campuzano) didn’t do anything about Sosa’s alleged behavior. Campuzano replied that she would like to give Sosa a beating so he couldn’t get involved with other women.

Cuevas later introduced Campuzano to three males at what was possibly the Shady Tree RV Park near George and a plan was hatched to assault Sosa as retaliation. Two of the males are allegedly Fernando Marcos Gutierrez and Julio Albarran Varona, who, as of Wednesday, are both jailed in connection to the December 22, 2016 killing of Jill Sundberg near George. 

On the night of December 8, 2016, Gutierrez, Varona and two unidentified males came to Cuevas’ and Campuzano’s home in Othello riding in a GMC Yukon and in another vehicle, possibly a pickup. The pickup left shortly after but the Yukon and four men stayed behind. The men were armed with rifles and handguns and were drinking beer and hard liquor. They continued to drink and all stayed inside Cuevas’ home until the early morning hours of December 9. 

Around 4:00 a.m., Gutierrez, Varona, Campuzano and one of the other men drove off in the Yukon. Cuevas was allegedly still asleep and stayed at the home with the remaining male. 

The group in the Yukon waited and soon saw Sosa’s Ford Explorer driving west out of town. Sosa and Barrientos were en route to their workplace in Royal City. The Yukon fell in behind and followed the Explorer on SR26. Near the intersection with SR262 just east of Royal City, the driver of the Yukon flashed the headlights which prompted Sosa to stop his car. Gutierrez and Varona, allegedly armed with rifles and handguns, got out of the Yukon and confronted Sosa and Barrientos. Sosa and Barrientos were then forced back into Sosa’s Explorer and driven west on SR26. The Yukon carrying Campuzano and the third man followed.

During the drive, a struggle broke out in Sosa’s car. Barrientos was shot in the upper chest and injured and Sosa was shot in the head and killed. Gutierrez and Varona then took Campuzano up to Sosa’s vehicle and made her look at Sosa’s body.

Varona and Gutierrez allegedly threatened Campuzano, telling her, “You talk, and the second person you see is your son.”

The group then got back into the Yukon, drove to the trailer park near George, and after about 90 minutes drove back to the home in Othello.

When the group arrived at the home, Cuevas was told what had happened. While being consoled by one of the men, that man allegedly held a gun to Cuevas’ head, threatening to kill her if she spoke of the shooting.

Forensic evidence obtained at the SR26 homicide scene matches that of suspect Fernando Marcos Gutierrez.

As of right now, aside from the involvement of suspects Fernando Marcos Gutierrez and Julio Albarran Varona in both the Sosa and Sundberg killings, it is not known if the Sosa killing played any role in the Sundberg killing.

The investigation continues.

(story: Matt Pusatory, KHQ Local News Web Producer; photo: KHQ.com)

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