SENTENCING UPDATE April 14, 2016 —
Brandon Farmer was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison for the 2006 shooting death of Velma Tirado.
“Our cold-case project continues its string of successes,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Justice was delayed, but not denied. Collaboration between the Tacoma Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and our office has resulted in several convictions with more to come.”
CASE UPDATE April 1, 2016 —
On Friday, a jury convicted Brandon Farmer of murder in the first degree for the 2006 shooting death of Velma Tirado
Farmer is scheduled to be sentenced on April 14.
CAPTURE UPDATE March 12, 2015 –
In a Pierce County courtroom Thursday, Brandon Farmer pleaded not guilty to murder in the first degree for the 2006 shooting death of Velma Tirado,
Farmer, who was in custody in West Virginia on unrelated charges, was transported to Washington State this week.
He is being held on $3 million bail.
“This is another example of collaboration, communication and persistence resulting in accountability,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Our cold-case team continues to successfully resolve these cases for the community.”
CAPTURE UPDATE November 12, 2014 --
“This was my one unsolved case over the last decade or so. For me, personally, to have this case solved is very satisfying,” Tacoma police Cold Case Unit detective Gene Miller said Wednesday.
A first-degree murder charge was filed earlier Wednesday against Brandon Lee Farmer, 29, who is in custody in West Virginia on unrelated charges.
Det. Miller says the break in the case and Farmer's arrest came from a great cooperative effort with Tacoma police, the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office, the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab and the FBI.
Pierce County prosecutors say Farmer shot dead Velma Tirado, 45, in Tacoma on Aug. 27, 2006.
According to prosecutors, Farmer and his friend, Dusty Titus, picked up Tirado, a mother of six who was working as a prostitute in downtown Tacoma, and drove to a nearby alley. Prosecutors say that after Farmer had Tirado perform a sex act on him, he pulled out a revolver and shot her in the head.
“When patrol officers got to the scene, literally all that was there was the victim, very little evidence for us to work with, unfortunately,” Miller said.
No suspects were identified at the time and the case was referred to the Cold Case Unit.
And then, just a few weeks ago, Miller got a call from a district attorney in California.
“He explained to me that he had an individual down there who was hoping to share some information on a case in the city of Tacoma.”
That individual was Titus, who said he was the driver of the pickup truck that night Velma was killed.
“The information that person provided included not only details of the case that only someone present would know, but also details about the person that was actually responsible for the shooting," Miller said.
Titus, in an interview with Miller and the FBI, identified Farmer as the shooter, prosecutors said.
"Farmer then admitted to Miller that he was present during the murder," the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.
Velma’s family says they are ecstatic at the news.
Velma’s sister, Ladean Avilia made a plea to the killer when we first talked to her last year.
“We forgive you. We just want you to turn yourself in. You can’t run no more. Get tired of running. There’s a time when you stop and just turn yourself in,” Avilia said.
Velma’s daughter, Vanessa Mowat just wanted answers. “We just want to know who did it and why. You took our mom and my kid’s grandma.”
Now , with a suspect charged, efforts are under way to bring Farmer back to Washington state from West Virginia.
KILLER WANTED IN TACOMA May 24, 2013 --
It’s been seven years since Velma Tirado’s daughter learned her mother had been murdered.
Tirado was 45 years old, and left behind six kids. Vanessa Mowat is the second oldest, and remembers hearing the news from a cousin. "I asked, 'did you guys see my mom? Did you hear from her?' And, she said, ‘No, we didn’t hear from her.' She just started crying and I said, ‘what’s wrong?’ She said, ‘auntie Velma’s dead,' and I couldn’t breathe.”
It all started in the early morning hours of August 27th, 2006. Tirado was working as a prostitute when something went wrong. Tacoma police Det. Gene Miller took WMW's Parella Lewis to the murder scene. "It’s believed she was picked up down there by the suspect in the suspect's vehicle, and transported to this location, and it was this location that things went bad.” It was just before 3am in the 1900 block of Fawcett Ave. in downtown Tacoma. Two witnesses parked nearby saw the horror unfold. “The victim was in the vehicle as was the suspect and there was some type of struggle that took place inside the vehicle," says Det. Miller. "And, as the victim was attempting to exit the vehicle, the first shot was fired." That shot hit Velma and blew out the passenger side window. The suspect then fired a second round and Velma fell out of the truck and hit the ground. "It was after the suspect vehicle had fled, the victim was able to get up, travel a short distance northbound, and went down and died," says Det. Miller.
According to witnesses, the suspect was driving a dark-colored, 'beater-style' '80's or '90's truck. Detectives are releasing this information to the public for the first time -- hoping to jog someone's memory and get the tip they need to crack the case. "I’m hoping that someone is going to think back and remember somebody that they know," says Det. Miller. "Somebody who’s a neighbor. Somebody who's an associate. Somebody who had a vehicle that matches that description that came up with a broken window on the passenger side."
Anyone with information on the murder of Velma Tirado, call an anonymous tip into:
CRIME STOPPERS: 1-800-222-TIPS
You must call the Crime Stoppers hotline with your tip to be eligible to receive a cash reward for information leading to a fugitive’s arrest.
CLICK HERE for information on how to TEXT A TIP to Crime Stoppers