Cold case reopened: Man arrested for 1991 murder in Tacoma

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

TACOMA — Police say they’ve cracked a case that’s more than 2 decades old and now a Pierce County man is in jail facing a murder charge.


Jerald Iafrati

At first, cops couldn’t link Michael Shaef to the deadly shooting that killed 28-year-old Jerald Iafrati, but then Shaef’s ex-wife changed her story while she was serving time in prison.

“After so many years, I thought it was unreal,” said Jeff Iafrati, Jerald’s brother, in a telephone interview from Maryland.

The Iafrati family now finally has the closure they’ve been seeking for the past 22 years.

“After years passed I think we just kind of thought, oh my goodness I guess they’re never going to catch this guy,” said Iafrati.

Detectives with the Tacoma Police department arrested 51-year-old Michael Shaef this week in connection to the case.

Shaef was active in the legalized marijuana movement — he even went on-camera with Q13 Fox News last spring. Shaef talked about his store, the Stonegate Restaurant and Bar, contending his customers could legally smoke pot indoors.

“Here he is with you guys doing an interview and he’s out there in the public eye knowing in the back of his mind knowing he’s done this horrific crime,” said Iafrati.

The shooting happened on North Sheridan Avenue in Tacoma in the spring of 1991.

Michael Shaef

Michael Shaef

Cops say Shaef and another man shot Jerald Iafrati in an apparent botched robbery.

“There are basically two ways that these cold cases are solved,” said Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Number one is DNA, number two is just gold old-fashioned detective leg work. People talk and they keep talking.”

Now that Shaef is facing charges in the murder, the victim’s family says they finally have justice.

“It’s been 20 some years and when you lose a loved one you just live with the unknown,” said Iafrati. “We always wondering what’s that guy doing? Have they harmed anyone else?

Shaef could be facing more charges in the coming days, and a second suspect in the deadly shooting is still on the loose.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.