A ranch hand suspected of killing one of the nation’s most prominent cattle ranchers in Montana this week is also wanted in the 1986 slaying of a 26-year-old man in Irvine, authorities said Wednesday.
David Llamas, 32, of Corona was arrested in Hobson, Mont., after Tuesday’s discovery of the body of Wayne Stevenson, 51, a leading cattleman in that state, said Jim Hubble, a Judith Basin County attorney.
Irvine police said they were ecstatic at the news of Llamas’ arrest.
“We presented enough evidence for his arrest for murder (in 1986) and haven’t been able to locate him. Obviously, this is very helpful for us. Now . . . we can bring him back and hold him accountable for this murder,” said Irvine Police Lt. Sam Allevato.
Irvine police say Llamas killed Ramon Anguiano when he lost his job and could not pay Llamas’ $700 fee for smuggling his wife and children into the United States from Mexico.
Anguiano had promised to pay as soon as he found work, police said.
But he was shot to death a few days later. His body was discovered dumped on Bonita Canyon Drive.
Irvine police obtained a $250,000 warrant for Llamas’ arrest, but he fled. He was seen in Boise, Ida., but later vanished.
In Montana, the 5-foot-2-inch Llamas apparently went to work six months ago for Stevenson, the patriarch of a cattle-raising family that includes his brother Keith and their children.
Stevenson was last seen Sunday evening on his way to feed cattle, according to authorities.
The cause of Stevenson’s death is unknown, said Judith Basin County Sheriff Steve Knetch. But authorities investigating the case discovered that a murder warrant had been issued years ago for Llamas in Orange County. He was arrested and held in lieu of $250,000 bail on that warrant.
“It’s safe to say he is one of the suspects” in Stevenson’s death as well, Knetch said. Still, he said, other people also are under investigation.
Hubble said Llamas refused to waive his extradition rights, so the state of California must start legal proceedings to extradite him. He said it will probably take about 30 days to complete the process.
Hubble said, however, that if authorities do tie Llamas to Stevenson’s death, California is going to have a tough time getting him back. Irvine Police Lt. Pete Linton, who has been in charge of the Anguiano case from the beginning, acknowledged as much.
“We’re going to have to wait to see what happens,” Linton said. “If they get their case filed and charge him with this murder prior to extradition, then we will have to stand back and wait.”
The Stevensons are among the leading Black Angus breeders in the nation.
The death of Wayne Stevenson “will send shock waves through the industry,” said Bob Cook, a spokesman for the Public Auction Yards in Billings, Mont. The Stevensons run what “is the biggest Angus cow-calf operation in America.”
Wire services contributed to this report.