RICHLAND — An autopsy has confirmed that a body found in southeastern Washington belongs to a Washington mother of three who had been reported missing.
Yanira Cedillos was celebrating her 30th birthday before she disappeared in early March. Since then Moses Lake police say they have been searching for her body, believing she was killed in her apartment by a Hermiston, Oregon, man, with whom she had previously lived and been involved romantically.
Police said information from suspect Juan Gastelum’s cellphone showed he had been a remote area off Highway 12 near the Washington-Oregon border on the day she disappeared.
Officers searched the area Thursday and discovered a woman’s body inside a sleeping bag covered in tree limbs and leaves, The Tri-City Herald reported. An autopsy Monday at the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed it was Cedillos.
Gastelum was arrested in March on suspicion of murder and rape. He remains lodged in Umatilla County Jail in Oregon, court records show. It wasn’t immediately known if he has a lawyer to speak on his behalf.
Her family in a statement thanked Moses Lake police for continuing the search and thanked the community and others for their support, KREM reported.