Police suspect a 19-year-old gang member’s casual girlfriend lured a University High School student out of an apartment last Thursday before the 19-year-old emptied his pistol clip to kill 15-year-old Preston Grzogorek.
Grzogorek’s family and friends sat in a Spokane County District Courthouse pew Friday afternoon, waiting to see homicide suspect Stephen Yohler’s face beamed on a screen above them. When Yohler appeared in his yellow jumpsuit for his first court hearing since being arrested Thursday, family members shook their heads.
“To be sitting there on camera with zero remorse,” Kaitlin Cooper, Grzogorek’s cousin, said shortly after the hearing.
Judge Jennifer Fassbender said 17-year-old Daisy RedThunder, Yohler’s girlfriend, is also charged in connection to the case as a suspected accessory.
According to court documents, RedThunder arranged to buy a vape pen from Grzogorek April 29, messaging him as if she were approaching and then arriving at the apartment complex at 9717 East Sixth Ave. in Spokane Valley where Grzogorek was hanging out with a friend.
A teenage friend of RedThunder’s told police that as RedThunder sent these messages, she was actually in the city of Spokane with no intention to meet Grzogorek, the documents say. The friend told police Grzogorek had posted on Snapchat that he put $1,000 on Yohler’s head to have him killed, but court documents did not indicate police had seen this post firsthand.
Police believe Yohler hid behind a garage outside the apartment until Grzogorek was close, according to court documents. A neighbor said Grzgorek turned in the parking lot, appeared to notice someone and turned back, running the other way.
Yohler’s other girlfriend, an adult who has not been charged in connection to the homicide, told police she’d been living with Yohler and other members of the 18th Street gang, according to court documents.
On March 30, the day after Grzogorek’s death, Yohler gathered up his things and the couple stayed with another gang member before flying to Reno, Nevada, the documents say.
In Reno, Yohler told his girlfriend that he killed Grzogorek because if he hadn’t, he thought Grzogorek would have him killed first, she later told police.
She told police she flew back to Spokane after Yohler “laid hands on her” while in Reno, according to court documents.
Based on plane tickets and messages, police believe Yohler flew RedThunder out to Reno after his older girlfriend had returned to Spokane, according to court documents.
A friend of Yohler’s told police Yohler had asked for money to fly to Reno April 29 and later admitted to killing Grzogorek. This friend said Yohler had bragged and laughed about how there was still blood on his shoes, the documents say.
Yohler described to this friend how he chased Grzogorek down and emptied his whole pistol clip into him, according to court documents. The friend told police Yohler had also described how he found a “fine female” – RedThunder – to help him carry out the shooting, according to court documents.
Nicole Grzogorek, Preston Grzogorek’s sister, said RedThunder had shown up at her brother’s candlelight vigil and funeral and cried at both just days before she was arrested.
“We appreciate the people who were courageous enough to come forward,” Cooper said outside the courtroom Friday, “and shame on you to those who didn’t.”
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