Two jailed in grisly slaying

Written by Union Democrat staff January 06, 2014 12:30 pm

Authorities are continuing to investigate a grisly Stockton homicide after two suspects were tracked down late last week in Tuolumne County.

Bryan Cook, 38, and Valentina Paz, 49, are being held in San Joaquin County Jail on suspicion of homicide and conspiracy in connection with the slaying of fellow Stockton resident Michael Shane Jones, 48, formerly of Long Barn.

According to the Stockton Police Department, the three lived together in a house on the 4500 block of Mist Trail Drive, where police say the murder took place shortly before Jan. 2.

Cook, formerly of Mi-Wuk Village, was located Thursday and arrested at a campsite in Groveland. Armed with a search warrant, investigators found parts of Jones’ dismembered body burning in a fire there, police said. 

In addition to the torso in the campfire, pieces of the dismembered body were found in Cook’s vehicle, according to a statement from police. 

The campsite was near Bairds Road, Bridal Drive and Veil Drive, all of which are off Merrell Road. 

Police would not say whether Cook was trespassing or authorized to be on the property. 

Police arrested Paz, most recently of French Camp, after questioning her at the Stockton police station, said department spokesman Joe Silva. 

Officers were seen at a home Saturday night in Sierra Village, though Silva would not confirm if that is where Paz was first taken into custody.

At least one other person, Teresa Holt, of Sonora, was questioned in connection with the case. Holt, who police say stayed at the Stockton house from time to time, was not arrested or charged. 

Silva said investigators have questioned “multiple people” in connection to the case but wouldn’t reveal any of the relationships.

“It’s still an active investigation, and we’re still going to be talking to people,” he said.

Police responded to a tip Thursday about a possible homicide at the Mist Trail Drive residence, located in the Weston Ranch area of Stockton. 

Investigators found a bloody scene at the house and launched the homicide investigation, though police have not elaborated on what they found. 

Cook and Paz were listed as the tenants of the house, but investigating officers said it appeared they had moved out, according to Silva.

Stockton police then received another tip that Cook was in Groveland, and he was located at the campsite by Tuolumne County Sheriff’s detectives assisting with the search.

Many details remained hazy Sunday afternoon. Silva said investigators are looking into “several different theories” on a possible motive. He would not comment on what the theories are.

“We are still trying to talk to people to narrow it down,” he said.

Police are also remaining tight-lipped on the specifics of the crime, including how Jones was killed.

“We wouldn’t release that information at this time,” Silva said.

Stockton police ask that anyone with further information to contact the department at 937-8377, Crime Stoppers at 946-0600, or submit a tip on the department’s Facebook page.

Records show Cook has been arrested on numerous occasions in Tuolumne County for crimes ranging from drug possession to receiving stolen property.

He previously listed a Mi-Wuk Village address.