South Carolina couple arrested in teen’s 2010 cold-case murder

South Carolina couple arrested in teen's 2010 cold-case murder

A South Carolina couple has been arrested in connection with a grisly cold-case murder of a 19-year-old college student, whose body was found in a culvert in rural Kansas in 2010.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday announced the arrests of Kristopher Valadez and Candace Valadez, both 32, in Simpsonville, South Carolina, in the killing of German Clerici.

According to the law enforcement agency, in early February 2010, Clerici’s mother reported the college student missing after not hearing from him in several days.

Less than a week later, Clerici’s body turned up in a muddy culvert east of Augusta. He had been shot to death.

The 19-year-old’s car, which also had been missing, was recovered nearly five months later in North Wichita.

Over the next decade, Clerici’s murder probe had gone cold, but in 2021, Sheriff Monty Hughey had investigators to “take a fresh look at the case,” according to the office.

Information was uncovered that prompted detectives to conduct follow-up interviews, which led to new evidence.

Valadez would have been 20 at the time of the crime.
Candace Valadez was arrested in connection to Clerici’s 2010 death.
Greenville County Sheriff’s Office

The sheriff’s office did not elaborate on the nature of that information, only saying that it ultimately resulted in the arrests of the Valadez couple.

Kristopher and Candace were believed to be around 20 years old and living in Wichita at the time of Clerici’s killing.

The pair were booked into a county jail in South Carolina on Sunday, pending extradition to Kansas to face charges in the slaying.

Kristopher Valadez and his wife will face charges for the slaying.
Clerici’s girlfriend at the time of his death said she knew the couple from working with them at a QuikTrip gas station.
Greenville County Sheriff’s Office

No motive was revealed in connection with Clerici’s death, but in 2019, investigators told KWCH that there were rumors that the Cowley County Community College student may have been involved in illegal activity after mixing with the “wrong crowd.”

Clerici’s girlfriend at the time of his death, Shauna McKee, told the Wichita Eagle in 2010 that he was “the best guy in the world” and insisted that his friends were “not bad people.”

In a Facebook post commenting on the Valadezes’ arrests, McKee revealed that she knew the duo from working with them at a QuikTrip gas station.

A Facebook page believed to be associated with Candace Valadez revealed that she studied criminal justice at Wichita State University and until recently worked as a manager at QuikTrip.

Photos shared on Valadez’s page suggested that she and Kristopher have been together for a decade or more. They welcomed a daughter in 2019.

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