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Everett homicide suspect arrested in Bellingham

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By Caleb Hutton
The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM -- A man wanted in connection with an Everett homicide was arrested after he was caught shoplifting about $239 in clothing from a Bellis Fair mall store, police said.
Derek J. Donnelly, 31, is a suspect in the death of Luis Verduzco, a 23-year-old man stabbed to death in April, said Everett police officer Aaron Snell.
Verduzco was lured into a car April 23 for a drug deal by Donnelly, Sarah A. Hellerud and Lathana Neese, according to an Everett Police Department probable cause statement.
The trio planned to rob a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine from Verduzco. But when he refused to give up the drugs, Hellerud stabbed him in the head, then dumped him out of the car, the statement says.
A neighbor found Verduzco's body behind a garage at a vacant Everett home.
Hellerud, 27, of Bothell, and Neese, 19, of Arlington, were arrested in the case earlier this month.
On the afternoon of May 23, Donnelly went into the Macy's at Bellis Fair mall and picked out eight items worth about $239 including a belt, pants and a hooded sweatshirt, said Bellingham police spokesman Mark Young.
A security guard got suspicious when Donnelly, loaded up with clothes, went into a changing room, Young said.
When Donnelly tried to leave the store, the guard stopped him. Donnelly was carrying a box cutter and a pocketknife, likely used to cut off security tags, Young said.
Donnelly gave a fake birthdate and name -- Robert M. Donnelly -- when he was being arrested by Bellingham police officers, Young said.
Right away, the officers were suspicious.
"It just didn't match. Those are veteran officers, and they know when people are lying to them," Young said.
Donnelly was booked into Whatcom County Jail as "John Doe."
Using a fingerprint analysis, the records department at the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office found a match to the homicide suspect.
Police don't know how long Donnelly had been in Bellingham, Young said. Everett detectives were expected to interview him Thursday.
Young said Donnelly wasn't talking to Bellingham police.
All three Everett suspects are under investigation for first-degree murder, but no charges have been filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Story tags » EverettCrimeHomicidePoliceBellingham

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