KENT, Wash. -- Police arrested a suspect in a carjacking in Kent, Washington, that ended with the death of a 38-year-old man, and now we're hearing from the victim's wife.
The suspect is a 23-year-old Kent man. His name was not immediately released because he has not been formally charged yet.
State Corrections officials told Q13 News the suspect had not spent time in prison, but was under community supervision beginning in September, 2017. The agency expected to end his supervision by the end of June, 2019 had no new charges been filed against the suspect. The suspect had originally been convicted of two counts of possession of a stolen vehicle from King County.
Police said a second person of interest in the case also has been identified. He is cooperating with the investigation and it has been determined that he is not a suspect in this case.
The carjacking happened about 8 p.m. Monday. A suspect made a forced entry into a pickup as it was stopped at the gate of a storage facility. The suspect then drove from the scene - with owner Jered Sperling still inside the truck - before officers arrived. The truck was found later at a Kent apartment complex with Sperling's body in the truck bed.
Strangers and neighbors continued showing their grief and support for Sperling's family by leaving cards and flowers at the storage facility.
"Them knowing there are good people out here and there are people that care might make a little difference," said Terrina Rowan who left flowers. "My prayers go out to the family, and all of us in Kent in this community just want to see things get better."
“I find it so terribly confusing as to how this could happen to the kindest, biggest heart," the victim's wife, Cynthia Sperling, said in a statement Wednesday. "I don’t know how someone from the community Jered worked so hard to improve and show love to could act so senselessly.”
Read the full statement below:
Jered and I flew up to Kent in August of 2017 from California to look around before we decided to make a move. After seeing the facility and surrounding area we pulled into a parking lot to deliberate. Jered had a terrible ulcer at the time, but he always did what needed to be done for us. We discussed how the area looked “a little rough.” We pondered on whether we felt safe, and if it was worth packing up our lives and starting over for. We decided, what if we could make a difference? What if we just go in with all the love, compassion and perseverance we can muster and try to make a change; And so, we have been trying to do.
Jered was born and raised in a small town in Northern California called Lodi. I had spent most of my life there as well, So Kent gave us an initial shock with the gun violence, drug use and the large homeless population surrounding our new neighborhood; but we had each other. He was the bravest person I know and always made me feel a little braver, so we dug right in. He immediately took to cleaning up our little storage village. He took great pride in redoing the landscaping, speaking with the homeless, making sure new roofs and gutters went along smoothly, negotiating with contractors and pulling down trees. He was working on better lighting, so our tenants felt safer, better carts if needed and air fresheners in hallways when tenants complained. He stopped and talked to all of our tenants when they were here. He treated people like family and told them to never hesitate to come to him if they ever needed anything, and he had their back. I remember one of our first interactions with a tenant here was a homeless man named Bobby. He was passed out drunk halfway in and halfway out of a hallway. Jered shook Bobby awake and Bobby woke up swinging. Jered had a bold voice and immediately dissolved the situation and let Bobby know the law of his land, but also that we were here for him. Bobby ended up becoming our friend and brought us our first office plant and would often stop in to rant about life and who he wanted to be. Unfortunately, Bobby passed away of a drug overdose in some forested area not long after and it broke our hearts.
We had a firm belief that what you put out is what you get back. We tried to touch each person’s life with kindness and compassion and just hoped that person would leave and go do the same for another. We cared about people. So, I find it so terribly confusing as to how this could happen to the kindest, biggest heart. I don’t know how someone from the community Jered worked so hard to improve and show love to could act so senselessly. I think the thing Jered would want to come of this is just a little kindness goes a long way. Take the time to smile at a stranger, try to understand another person’s perspective… Maybe if we all loved a little harder our children would stop hurting each other and other people. In the wake of the loss of our Jered we band with families who have lost loved ones to a violent crime. Our message as a family is…, we all too often see this or crimes like this on television or social media. It seems unlikely in our everyday lives no matter where we live that this very thing could not happen to us. Having said that know that Jered was passionate about taking a stand on “everything he did. “He believed speaking up instead of standing back was the only way to regain our community, that being proactive instead of being scared was how he lived his life. He genuinely would have tried to save even a STRANGERs truck.
So, please, be the change, live with heart, be the love and light for one another. Be like Jered, strong but tender. Treat people with respect, give lots of hugs, make people smile and hold each other so tight. Don’t just tell people when they are wrong, help them do right, tell people you are proud of them. Go the extra mile. Jered, my love of my life was all the things that make a good man. So much life and so much charisma. He was a leader, a protector and fiercely devoted to his family and friends. He was positive and outgoing and just so happy. I keep hearing him whisper to be strong. I feel all the things that made Jered, Jered will always be all around me. I know I will live out the rest of my life so grateful to love and be loved by this incredible man. I will strive to make him proud and be like him, and I hope you hear this and do the same.
-- Cynthia Sperling and Family
The Associated Press contributed to this report.