Realtor dies at hand of hitman. Business partner charged with 1st degree murder
Vern Holbrook was a 79-year-old real estate broker in Yakima, Washington, who was beaten to death by a killer hired by his business associate. Holbrook’s tragic story will be reenacted on Dateline on ID tonight. The episode, which fist aired on NBC in 2015 titled, “Secrets At The Sunshine Motel,” will focus on the investigation to find out who attacked a successful real estate agent and left him for dead in a vacant home that he planned to sell. Detectives are taken on a winding road of suspects who lead them back to someone very close to home.
Police were called and Holbrook was airlifted to the hospital, where he lay in a coma for six weeks, and then died eight months later, according to KHQ-Q6. The doctors said that Vern Holbrook had been beaten about the head, which caused massive swelling and brain damage. He also had a ghastly cut to the throat.
As Holbrook fought to stay alive, police tried to figure out who had last spoken with the victim. Phone records showed that the last call to Holbrook’s cellphone was from 23-year-old Adriana Mendez. In an interview with police, she stated that she was calling Vern Holbrook about selling a trailer. She later admitted that she was in on a plot to kill Vern for $10,000, money that she had been paid by Daniel Blizzard, Vern Holbrook’s longtime real estate agent.
Using phone records and video footage from the motel, police were able to connect Adriana Mendez, Luis Gomez-Monges, and Daniel Blizzard to Daniel’s lover and co-worker, Jill Taylor. Taylor was the ex-wife of Vern Holbrook’s son, Chad. The investigation revealed that Jill Taylor knew that Daniel wanted to get rid of Vern Holbrook so that he and Jill could collect on the insurance policy that he would be paid in the event of Holbrook’s death.
Adriana Mendez and Luis Gomez-Monges were in on the plot because they were hurting for money. Had it not been for Jill Taylor, Adriana and Luis would have never met Vern Holbrook, according to KAPP-TV.
“Mendez was in desperate need of cash and wanted to move her children to Texas — Monges also had an expiring Visa, which Mazzone claims would allow Mendez to pull off the hit and take all the money that was offered for it; $10,000. You told us just a minute ago that when the $10,000 came up with Jill, you were interested because you needed money, because you needed to go to Texas,” said Mazzone, That’s why it was something that you said ‘well, I need to consider that. Me going to Texas was never in my mind, I just needed money period,” answered Mendez.”
Prosecutors say that Daniel Blizzard and his family were unable to continue making the payments on the Aspen real estate business that he was supposed to buy from Vern Holbook, leading Holbrook to take the business back. That is when Daniel Blizzard devised a plan to kill him. On the day of the beating, Adriana and Luis Gomez-Monges met Vern Holbrook at a property in the Cowiche–Tieton area. Leaving the kids in the car, Adriana entered the house with Luis and watched as her boyfriend beat the well-known real estate broker. After slicing Holbrook’s throat, they left the poor man to suffer for eight hours before help arrived.
What makes this case especially sad is Vern Holbrook was the kind of man who would have helped David Blizzard or anyone else with whatever they needed. And yet, two of the key people who were part of this set up, Jill Taylor and Adriana Mendez, are not serving any time in prison. However, Luis received a 27-year sentence, and Daniel Blizzard is serving 34 years in prison.
Watch Vern Holbrook’s story on Dateline tonight at 8/7 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery (ID).