Body of Missing Moses Lake Mother of Three Found in Sleeping Bag South of Tri-Cities


An autopsy this week confirmed that the body found near Wallula Junction south of Pasco last week is a missing Moses Lake mother of three.

Yanira Cedillos was celebrating her 30th birthday when she disappeared in early March.

Since then Moses Lake police have been searching for her body after believing she was killed in her apartment by a Hermiston man, Moses Lake police said in a Facebook post.

ZETX Advancing Justice provided police with information from the suspected killer's cellphone that pointed to a remote area off Highway 12 just outside Wallula Junction near the Oregon-Washington border.

Juan Ismael Gastelum, 27, was allegedly in the area for several minutes on the morning Cedillos disappeared, police said.

Officers searched the area Thursday and discovered a woman's body inside a sleeping bag covered in tree limbs and leaves.

The Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office, Washington Patrol Crime Lab and the Walla Walla County coroner were called to the scene to help investigate.

While police believed they had found Cedillos, investigators were not able positively identify the woman until an autopsy on Monday at the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Yanira's family and friends," police said on Facebook. "Yanira's family have been side by side with us throughout this entire investigation. Although the outcome is not what anyone wanted, it brings us comfort that we were able to find Yanira and bring her back to her family."

Family members thanked people for their love and support during the past two months in a statement.

"We are relieved that she is found, but still shocked that this has happened to her. She deserved the world and more," according to a post on Facebook.

Missing for a month

Cedillos was celebrating at Papa's Casino with friends on March 3 when friends said Gastelum called and messaged her multiple times asking, where she was and what she was doing, Moses Lake police said on Facebook.

Police said she used to live with the Hermiston, Ore., man.

Shortly before midnight, she and her friends were in the casino's parking lot when an argument started, police said. Cedillos walked away.

A short time later, she called a friend to pick her up. When the friend arrived in the area, Cedillos was gone.

When a friend called her, a man could be heard yelling asking who was calling her, and the phone disconnected, Moses Lake police said. Moments later, Cedillos called back and said she was fine.

Cedillos didn't show up for work on March 4 and family members reported her missing.

When police searched her apartment, they were able to determine she had been killed there.

Investigators believe Gastelum picked her up blocks away from the casino and took her back to her apartment, where he allegedly killed her.

Gastelum left the apartment in the early morning hours of March 4, and was spotted on camera cleaning his car out at a local gas station at 7:30 a.m.

Gastelum was arrested in Hermiston, and is charged in Grant County Superior Court with second-degree murder and second-degree rape.