South Sound News

Man arrested in Mexico to face charges of 2002 murder and multiple rapes in Pierce County

The suspect in the 2002 murder of Sharon Van Gilder and three violent Tacoma rapes has been arrested in Mexico, according to a media release from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Miguel Urbano-Vazquez was arrested Mar. 14, 2023, after he was located by the FBI in 2019.

In March 2002, the body of Sharon Van Gilder was found unclothed on the side of the road in the 15600 block of 74th Avenue East.

Detectives could not find evidence at the scene and there were no marks on her body, which led them to believe a crime had happened at a different location.

After speaking to witnesses at a bar in Tacoma, detectives found out she was last seen leaving the bar with Urbano-Vazquez.

During the course of their investigation, Urbano-Vazquez fled to Mexico and detectives were not able to obtain DNA to match the DNA found on the victim.

In 2012, a detective with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department discovered three rapes that occurred at around the same time as the murder.

The suspect in those cases was the same man that was seen leaving the Tacoma bar with Van Gilder.

The DNA evidence from the three rapes also matched the DNA in the murder investigation.

With this new information, an arrest warrant was issued for Urbano-Vazquez, but he could not be located, since he fled to Mexico.

In 2019, the FBI notified the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office they had found Urbano-Vazquez in Mexico.

The department applied for extradition, which was processed in 2023. With the help of law enforcement in Mexico, Urbano-Vazquez was arrested.

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, there will be still more time before Urbano-Vazquez is brought back to Pierce County to face trial.

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