In 2013, Vern Holbrook, a 79-year-old renowned Yakima real estate broker, was brutally assaulted, revealing a network of deception, treachery, and greed. Holbrook was discovered violently attacked with his throat slit in a Cowiche, Washington property on May 25, 2013, that he had intended to present to potential customers that day.
Holbrook, who endured several injuries to his brain during the murder attempt, succumbed to his wounds eight months after the incident. As the investigation progressed, several revelations were made connecting his long-time colleague Daniel Blizzard and ex-daughter-in-law Jill Taylor to the murder.
The discovery of evidence also led the authorities to two other suspects, Adriana Mendez and Luis Gomez-Monges, who were hired to carry out the attack on Holbrook.
After a shocking trial that resulted in heartbreaking revelations, Blizzard and Gomez-Monges were convicted of the first-degree murder of Vern Holbrook. They were sentenced to 39 and 28 years in prison, respectively.
NBC’s Dateline will have Josh Mankiewicz reporting on Vern Holbrook’s murder story this Saturday, June 11, 2022 at 10 p.m. ET. This would be a re-broadcast of the episode titled Secrets at the Sunshine Motel.
The synopsis states:
“The family of a beloved and successful Yakima real estate agent is left in disbelief when he is attacked while showing a home. Who would want to hurt Vern Holbrook?”
Why was Vern Holbrook attacked at the Cowiche property in Washington?
When one of Vern Holbrook’s employees called the authorities upon discovering the victim, a search of the crime scene directed them to his missing phone. Investigators revealed that on the day of the attack, Adirana Mendez was the last person that Vern had spoken to over the phone.
Mendez initially denied being in Cowiche that day. However, she ultimately admitted to not only being at the crime scene, but also told investigators that she saw her boyfriend, Luis Gomez-Monges, attack Holbrook. She said that she was in the car with her three children during the attack. Mendez also informed police of Daniel Blizzard’s involvement in the attack.
The investigation led to the discovery of Blizzard and Holbrook’s 2008 deal when the latter, upon his retirement, had agreed to sell Aspen Real Estate to the former. Ignoring his concerns, the renowned real estate agent also agreed to let his long-time colleague obtain a $1.58 million life insurance policy on him as part of the acquisition agreement.
When Blizzard fell short on making more than two payments, the contract fell apart. Sixteen months later, Holbrook regretfully took back Aspen Real Estate from Blizzard.
Prosecutors soon came to suspect that Blizzard was behind the attack, which was later confirmed by his texts with Mendez prior to the assault. Soon, authorities discovered that Blizzard and Mendez met through his girlfriend Jill Taylor and Holbrook’s son Chad’s ex-wife. This was confirmed after Jill’s statement.
While testifying in court, Gomez-Monges, 39, claimed that Mendez committed the crime when he intervened, trying to prevent her from murdering Vern Holbrook. The interpreter conveyed his apology to the victim’s family, which said,
“I only hope (Holbrook’s family) doesn’t go through the suffering that my family is going through because I am not there.”
Vern Holbrook’s daughter-in-law responded, in a letter, by saying,
“You are disgusting pieces of flesh, and I cannot call you humans.”
In a letter, Andrew Rockenfield, stated,
“My dad tried to get that life insurance policy canceled. He feared that (Blizzard) would kill him for the money.”
After encountering major obstructions and delays, Gomez-Monges and Blizzard were given their prison sentences.
Mendez, 24-year-old was initially being charged with first-degree murder in exchange for testifying against the two men. Mendez was authorized to take a plea deal and eventually received a one-year sentence instead. Meanwhile, 39-year-old Taylor walked away without facing any charges.
Catch the upcoming episode on the death of Vern Holbrook of Dateline with Josh Mankiewicz on June 11, 2022 on NBC.