It’s been 14 years since Jerry Sellers was found shot in the head, wrapped in a blanket and stashed in the trunk of a car on a Tacoma street.
Detectives have long suspected the 29-year-old died because of drugs.
When Sellers went missing June 23, 2003, his girlfriend told police he’d gone to meet a friend about methamphetamine.
On Monday, Pierce County prosecutors charged Jake Vigil-Cross, 38, with first-degree murder in Sellers’ death.
His first appearance in court has not been scheduled because he will have to be transferred from Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, where he is serving time for a separate fatal shooting.
Detectives spoke over the years with six people who knew Vigil-Cross and claimed he’d confessed to them about shooting Sellers.
One witness said Vigil-Cross asked Sellers to inspect a loose wheel and shot him in the head when he bent over to take a look, records show.
Another talked about how Vigil-Cross had the victim’s 1989 Ford Thunderbird coupe towed to South 49th and South Prospect streets after hiding Sellers’ body in the trunk.
Officers found the car June 28, 2003, after an anonymous caller gave them a tip. Neighbors said the car had been there about a week and they’d seen a Hispanic man in his late 20s park it and walk away.
Vigil-Cross matches the suspect’s description.
On the day Sellers disappeared, Vigil-Cross allegedly stopped by the home Sellers shared with his then-girlfriend.
Sellers’ girlfriend “told detectives that Sellers said he was going to meet a friend to do some business and make some money,” according to charging papers. “Sellers, according to her, was involved in the methamphetamine business.”
This isn’t the first time Vigil-Cross has been charged in a shooting death.
On Sept. 20, 2006, he and his friends crashed a party at an East Tacoma duplex and Vigil-Cross opened fire when they were asked to leave, hitting three people.
Nathan Allen, 25, was killed and two partygoers were injured.
Although Vigil-Cross was initially charged with first-degree murder, charges were reduced to second-degree manslaughter in 2006 because the victim was holding a gun and wearing a bullet-proof vest at the time of his death.
Vigil-Cross entered an Alford plea in Allen’s death, maintaining his innocence but acknowledging he was likely to be convicted at trial. He also pleaded guilty to first-degree and second-degree assault.
He was sentenced to 43 1/2 years in prison.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653