Monday, November 29, 2021
Nov. 29, 2021

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Suspect charged with murder in death of woman whose body was found in Phinney Ridge


SEATTLE — A 24-year-old North Seattle man was charged Thursday with second-degree murder, accused of fatally shooting a woman inside his car in a nature area north of Maple Valley in late August and leaving her body in an alley outside a fire station in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood, according to King County prosecutors.

After being on the run from police for more than a month, Jacaree Rashad Hardy was arrested Wednesday afternoon when U.S. Marshals tracked him to a Renton apartment building, where they found him hiding under a bed, charging papers say. In addition to second-degree murder, Hardy is charged with first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He remains jailed in lieu of $5 million bail.

Hardy is accused of fatally shooting Zoella Martinez, 20, around 8:45 p.m. Aug. 31 and leaving her body hours later on the north side of Seattle Fire Station 21, in the 7300 block of Greenwood Avenue North, according to the charges.

Hardy is to be arraigned Oct. 21. Court records do not yet indicate which defense attorney is representing him.

Martinez believed Hardy had fraudulently taken $1,100 from her bank account and arranged to meet him in the parking lot at the Belmondo Reach Natural Area on the Cedar River in attempt to get her money back, say the charges. It’s not clear in the charges why Martinez suspected Hardy of stealing from her.

Martinez had texted a friend the Facebook profile of the man she was going to meet as well as the meet location, and asked her friend to stay close by, the charges say.

Martinez’s friend was late arriving and when she and her boyfriend pulled into the lot, they could see Martinez seated inside a car parked next to Martinez’s vehicle. The driver of the other car sped out of the lot and the friend attempted to follow, but with the other driver hitting speeds of 100 mph, the friend lost sight of the vehicle, the charges say.

When Martinez didn’t return to the lot to retrieve her vehicle, her friend reported her missing to the King County Sheriff’s Office just before 11 p.m. on Aug. 31.

Around 5 a.m. the next day, a man flagged down a Seattle police officer and directed the officer to a woman’s body in the alley next to Fire Station 21. The woman did not have a cellphone, identification or any other property on her, the charges say.

As news of an unidentified homicide victim spread, sheriff’s detectives contacted Seattle police detectives and quickly connected the missing person case with the homicide investigation.

Five bullets were recovered from Martinez’s body during an autopsy and her wounds were to the left side of her upper torso, indicating she’d been shot by someone to her left, say the charges. She also had burns consistent with being shot at close range.

Deputies went to the Belmondo Reach Natural Area, where they located Martinez’s car. There, a man who lives nearby said his security cameras cover the parking lot and allowed deputies to review the footage, the charges say.

The cameras captured footage of Martinez arriving around 8:20 p.m., and 20 minutes later, a second car arrived. Martinez was seen getting into the front passenger seat of the other car and a minute later, the video captured approximately “5 flashes of light” consistent with the muzzle flash of a handgun being fired inside the passenger compartment, the charges say.

Martinez’s friend was seen driving into the lot less than 30 seconds after the muzzle flashes, according to the charges.

Researching the Facebook profile of the man Martinez was meeting, sheriff’s detectives identified Hardy and learned he drove a silver Lexus, according to the charges. A Seattle police officer went to the house where Hardy lived and found a silver Lexus parked in the driveway.

Hardy’s residence is five miles from Fire Station 21.

Seattle police impounded the Lexus and during a search of the vehicle, found five .40-caliber shell casings, a fired bullet, and blood on the front passenger seat and on the exterior of the front passenger door, the charges say.