SALINAS, Calif. - A sex offender behind bars Thursday, accused of killing a woman, and it's been almost a month since her body was found.
In what began as a suspicious death, today we learned that 30-year old Shantel Llamas died from asphyxiation, and the primary suspect is now in custody. On October 12th, Salinas police responded to the Motel 6 on Kern Street for a welfare check on a woman after her family couldn't get in touch with her. There they found the body of Llamas alone, with no apparent signs of foul play. Detectives discovered the last person to be seen with her was 51-year old transient, Richard Eugene Simmons, who was already wanted for an outstanding million-dollar warrant for failure to register as a sex offender. Simmons was found yesterday in San Francisco and transported back to Salinas. Simmons had registered his address as the Salinas First United Methodist Church, where he received mail but didn't reside, making him hard to keep track of.
"There's not a lot of ability for us to go out and do physical checks on every single person that comes in and registers, especially when they're transient and not giving a physical address of where they're living at," said Salinas Police Commander Stan Cooper.
"You know, something like this could have been prevented. We've got a one-million dollar bail. I mean they go and pick up people for 20-thousand dollar bails at their house. Ok, 20-thousand dollar bails they'll go pick up people. This is a one-million dollar bail, why wasn't anyone out there searching for this guy," said Mark Diaz, a cousin of Shantel's.
Authorities believe Llamas and Simmons knew each other, but aren't aware of their exact relationship. Simmons was taken into custody without incident.
Simmons was booked into the Monterey County Jail for his outstanding warrants and one count of homicide. He will be charged on Monday during his arraignment.