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Police ask for help in finding missing Tacoma man

Police say Santiago Sanchez Cortes, 59, of Tacoma, was last seen Oct. 1 and they suspect there may be foul play involved.

 

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TACOMA — Police have charged a 38-year-old woman with the murder of a Tacoma man who has been missing for six weeks.

“This case is still a bit murky, we don’t have a body,” Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Tuesday. “But we do have a defendant based on credit card receipts and statements she made to witnesses and to the detectives.”

tacomaMargaret Effelberg pleaded not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to first-degree murder, second-degree trafficking in stolen property and second-degree possession of stolen property. She was ordered held in the King County Jail on $500,000 bail.

Neighbors say the victim–  Santiago Sanchez Cortes, 59, of Tacoma — was friends with Effelberg, and they would often see him in their neighborhood. According to detectives, his cell phone was used in the area on Oct. 1, the last time he had been seen. Later that night, his credit card was used at a nearby Home Depot.

“The defendant, using the victim’s credit card, purchased a saw, extra blades, garbage bags and Lysol wipes,” Lindquist said. “The detectives have drawn inferences from that.”

Detectives believe Arianna Pierrottet went to Home Depot with Effelberg, then helped her sell Cortes’ truck. She’s facing charges involving stolen property and identity theft.

“The co-defendant is charged just with the property crimes,” Lindquist said. “There’s no evidence at this point to indicate the co-defendant was involved in the murder.”

But detectives allege Effelberg confessed to the murder to Pierrottet, telling her she was surprised Cortes’ body hadn’t been found since it was “close by.”

Lindquist said the investigation continues, and he hopes there will be more evidence by the time this case goes to trial.

“We have successfully prosecuted murder cases without a body before and we will do it again if we need to. But the search for the body is ongoing.”

Effelberg is due back in court next month.

TACOMA — A 38-year-old woman was charged with murder Tuesday in the disappearance of a 59-year-old Tacoma man who was last seen Oct. 1 and who has not been found.

Margaret Effelberg pleaded not guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to first-degree murder, second-degree trafficking in stolen property and second-degree possession of stolen property. She was ordered held in the King County Jail on $500,000 bail.

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Santiago Sanchez Cortes, 59, was last seen on Oct 1 near his residence in Tacoma. Cortes failed to show up for his job, and was reported missing by his employers a week later. Cortes had kept the job for a long time and never missed a day of work, his co-workers told police.

tacomaPolice have not found a body, but court documents said that Effelberg allegedly told a friend, Arianna Pierrottet, of Lakewood, that he is “close by.”

Pierrottett was charged with possession of stolen property, identity theft and trafficking in stolen property as part of this case.

Police  said they found a saw, deodorized garbage bags, Lysol wipes and scented candles in Effelberg’s home –  items that police alleged she bought with Cortes’ stolen debit cards.

“Detectives have learned that at the time of Santiago’s disappearance, Margaret was desperate for money, had a gambling problem and was facing an eviction,” according to charging papers.

Effelberg allegedly told her boyfriend she killed Cortes because he disrespected her, court records said. She also admitted what she’d done to a neighbor couple, court records show.

sanchez cortes

Santiago Sanchez Cortes

Local News
10/22/13

Missing man believed victim of foul play

sanchez cortes

Santiago Sanchez Cortes

TACOMA — Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a missing man they believe is the victim of foul play.

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Santiago Sanchez Cortes, 59, was last seen on Oct 1 near his residence in Tacoma. Cortes failed to show up for his job, and was reported missing by his employers a week later. Cortes had kept the job for a long time and never missed a day of work, his coworkers told police.

Police did not say why they believe foul play is involved.

Cortes is listed as a 5’4″ tall hispanic male, 190 pounds with gray hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information about Cortes should call the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department or CrimeStoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

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