Wherever Kino Gomez might be, "If he's still alive and in the U.S.," says Okanogan County Sheriff's detective Mike Murray, "he's doing really well" for a fugitive. The former King County road engineer is accused of the July 17, 2009 murder of Seattle music producer and sound engineer Tom Pfaeffle, 49, who mistakenly tried to enter Gomez's motel room in Twisp, Okanogan County. Gomez, 58 if living, fled last September after sending relatives a suicide note. Claiming he was wrongly accused, he said he was on a "one-way trip" to the mountains to "deprive society of the [courtroom] circus it so bloody craves."
Seattle Weekly spoke with Gomez just before his disappearance. He hadn't read any accounts of the shooting nor seen reader comments in newspapers, he said. But "one of my co-workers says people are ready to hang me. They weren't at the alleged scene of the crime. But I was, and it's not the way they say."
Several days later, on September 4, he mailed his suicide letter, warning "Let no one get in my way - I will not be very kind. Despair has now changed to anger," then dropped off the radar.
In October, SWreported that authorities were trying to determine if he left the country, possibly for his native Philippines, where he was born as Miguel Esquerra; he changed his name in the U.S. in the 1980s, when he was a state employee and known to carry a gun to work in his lunchbox.
Last week, Det. Murray told the Wenatchee World that authorities indeed suspect Gomez went overseas. But there are no solid clues to indicate he's dead or alive.
"He hasn't been in any jails. He hasn't applied for any jobs where they check fingerprints. There haven't been any background checks run on him," Murray said.
Authorities have issued a worldwide warrant. Police have their eye on the Philippines, where Gomez is originally from, Murray said.
Probers regularly check with Gomez's family in the Seattle area, who are out the $100,000 bail they posted on his behalf. They're apparently as puzzled as police. "It's a waiting game, for the most part," said Murray. It is for Pfaeffle's family and friends as well, still seeking justice.