Two held in killing of Lindsay man
Body found Friday in burned vehicle
Two Lindsay men are in custody, one of then arrested in Kansas City Mo., on Sunday, in connection with the brutal killing of Michael Avalos, 20, also of Lindsay.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department reports that Josua Stepp, 23, and Nathan Hunt, 22, were arrested following the discovery of Avalos’ body in a burned vehicle found Friday near Lindsay.
Hunt was arrested at his residence in Lindsay on Friday, while an arrest warrant was put out for Stepp.
At 4:24 a.m. (Pacific time) Sunday, Stepp was arrested at an Amtrak station in Kansas City.
The TCSD said the U.S. Marshal’s Western District of Missouri Task Force located Stepp while he was disembarking from a train. He was arrested without incident.
According to authorities, on Friday deputies responded to a call of a suspicious missing person. The victim, Avalos, was last seen on his front porch at 1:30 a.m. Friday. At just after 7 a.m., Avalos’ mother called the Sheriff’s Department and reported Avalos was not home and blood and the victim’s cell phone were found in the front yard of his residence. Violent Crimes detectives were called to investigate.
During the investigation, it was discovered the victim was last seen with Stepp and Hunt next door at Hunt’s residence in the 900 block of N. Laurel in Lindsay until about 2:30 a.m. There was blood located in Hunt’s front yard as well, said the TCSD.
As the missing person investigation was underway, at just after noon Friday, a rancher reported he had located a burned vehicle with burned human remains in his orchard at Ave. 224 and Road 236, several miles southeast of Lindsay.
The vehicle came back registered to Stepp. The body was later identified as that of the victim.
Detectives said Avalos had been stabbed in front of Hunt’s residence and transported to the orchard where he and the vehicle had been set on fire. The stabbing is believed to be gang related. Avalos was a former gang member.
See Monday's Porterville Recorder for more of the story.