Arrest made in Yakima Canyon double murder investigation

Arrest made in Yakima Canyon double murder investigation
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A break in the Yakima Canyon double murder case came Wednesday night when Yakima police and the Kittitas County Sheriff's Department arrested Troy Whalen in connection to the murders of Ryan Pederson and Michael Eby last year.

Troy Whalen is being held in the Yakima County Jail on two counts of first degree murder.

Investigators have also identified Jose Pineda as a person of interest. Police say he's wanted for questioning in connection to the two slayings.

"It's a sad scenario, unfortunately," said Yakima Police Department Captain Rod Light. "I mean, two lives were lost."

It seems one of the victims led to the suspect.

According to the arrest affidavit, police traced Michael Eby's phone records, which pointed detectives to Whalen's home.

But Yakima Police say it was actually a robbery investigation that brought detectives to Whalen's garage, while conducting a search warrant.

Once inside, investigators say they noticed evidence; blood stains, wires, things they say connected this garage to the Yakima Canyon murders.

Ryan Pederson and Michael Eby were found shot to death in a car near Roza Dam in December.

Pederson was found in the backseat, while Eby was found bound with rope and tape in the trunk.

"What do investigators believe the motive is for such a heinous crime like this?" KIMA asked.

"Obviously, there's evidence or some believe that probably had something possibly to do with drugs and money," said Light.

Police say Whalen told them Eby was killed in his garage.

Investigators say Whalen also told them he provided, "...items used to wrap Eby's body. And, helped dispose the body in the canyon."

But, police don't believe Whalen acted alone.

According to the affidavit, detectives are trying to track down Jose Pineda as a person of interest.

"The probability is certainly there," said Light. "That he is one that had some level of involvement, if not actually the gunman himself."

Investigators talked to Pineda earlier, but never arrested him.

Police say Eby was supposed to meet Pineda the night he disappeared.

Court records indicate during questioning, "[Pineda]...denied the meeting ever took place…stated he went directly home that evening. But, through his cell phone records, they saw he was in the same area as the Hathaway address."

To get all sides KIMA spoke with Whalen's brother who maintains his brother's innocence.

"He's never been in a fight his whole life. And he's never hurt anybody," said older brother Chuck Whalen.

While police look for Pineda, bail for Whalen has been set at $2 million.

We checked to see if Pineda has a criminal record and found out he has been arrested for drugs in the past.

There is already a warrant out for his arrest for failing to appear in court on a methamphetamine charge.