The arrest by federal marshals of Edmonds child rape suspect Trevor Zurstadt in a sailboat off the west coast of Florida wouldn’t have happened without good, old-fashioned detective work by Edmonds police, the quick efforts of the Snohomish County Prosecutor to secure a warrant, and some high-tech tracking that allowed law enforcement to locate the suspect 3,200 miles away through cell phone call records.
Zurstadt, now charged with one count of second-degree rape and one count of second-degree rape of a child, was taken into custody earlier this week while he was apparently trying to flee the country by boat near Fort Meyers, Florida.
The case first came to the attention of Edmonds Police in January when Zurstadt’s former girlfriend reported that he had sexually assaulted her 13-year-old son. Edmonds Police Detective Stacie Trykar, a parent herself, took the case and launched an energetic investigation.
Subsequent forensic analyses and interviews with the victims and others provided probable cause for arrest in late April. Officers attempted to locate Zurstadt at his two known addresses — his mother’s home in Edmonds and his stepfather’s home in Kirkland — but by that time he had left the area and his trail had grown cold.
In early May detectives obtained a search warrant for the suspect’s cell phone records. They began receiving updates on phone usage on May 12, which revealed that it was being actively used near Pine Island, Fla., approximately 15 miles west of Fort Meyers.
With the suspect’s phone now located and active, Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Taryn Jones went to work preparing charges so that an arrest warrant could be issued.
Normally a multi-day process, Jones submitted charging documents the next day (May 13), noting that the suspect had told others that he planned to sail south to the Caribbean, and that there is “no information about a plan for the defendant’s return to the country if he leaves and any plan to return/return date is unknown.” The documents asked that an arrest warrant be issued, and bail be set at $250,000.
Within 24 hours U.S. Marshals and deputies with the Lee County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office arrested Zurstadt aboard a sailboat in the waters off Big Carlos Pass, the last land before entering the Caribbean from the inland waterways of western Florida, apparently in the act of fleeing the country. He was taken into custody without incident.
Currently being held in Florida, Zurstadt is facing extradition to Snohomish County where he will be charged with second-degree rape and second degree rape of a child.
“Fleeing from justice in an apparent attempt to leave the country, the defendant was apprehended thanks to the quick work of my office, specifically Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Taryn Jones and prosecutor’s office staff, to get charges filed immediately so an arrest could be made,” said Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell. “Thanks also go to our law enforcement partners both locally and federally for their diligent efforts to locate the defendant and bring him back to Snohomish County to account for the charges against him.”
— By Larry Vogel