In December 1988, the city of Novato in California was stunned by the murder of middle-aged foster parents, Tasia and William Stephens. The couple was found shot in their bed near the crib of an eight-month-old baby, who was fortunately left unharmed. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Redrum: Love At Any Price’ takes a close look at the horrific murders of the Stephenses and unravels the tragic incident meticulously. If you are interested to learn more about the case details as well as the identity and current whereabouts of the perpetrators, we have your back. Without furder ado, let’s dive in then.
How Did Tasia and William Stephens Die?
Tasia Stephens, 43, and 45-year-old William Stephens had been married for 15 years. They ran successful businesses of hair salons and video stores in Novato, California. However, the couple desperately wanted to adopt a baby. Tracy Medeiros was then a 17-years-old teen in Massachusetts who got pregnant and was going to put her baby up for adoption since her boyfriend had left her and she didn’t have the financial means to support a baby at the time. It was around then that Tracy met the Stephenses through an ex-boyfriend who was a distant cousin of the couple.
The pregnant teen and Tasia and William Stephens bonded well, with her staying in a home for teenage mothers in the nearby city of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County during her trimesters. The couple was present at the birth of the baby and even chose the name of the baby together with the young mother; the newborn was named Travis. The Stephenses even paid for all travel and medical expenses of Tracy. Although the legal formalities of the adoption process were postponed due to a backlog of cases, the Stephenses took the baby into their care.
Tracy had planned on visiting her biological son during the holidays towards the end of 1988. Hence, it came as a tragic surprise when the Novato police called to inform her that the Stephenses were found shot in their bed on December 14, 1988. Her baby, however, was safe and sound though alone and hungry for approximately 24 hours, according to the legal enforcement experts. Tracy responded to the news, saying, ″My world was totally crushed. I thought, ‘What am I going to do with the baby?’ I thought, ’I love him, I want him to be with me.‴
Who Killed Tasia and William Stephens?
Initially, the police could not find any motive behind the double murder. However, based on the evidence found at the crime scene, the absconding housekeeper, Yolanda Segura, soon became their primary suspect. Upon further investigation, the authorities found more pieces of evidence at the apartment Yolanda shared with her boyfriend in the city of San Rafael. The investigators put out flyers and advertisements asking for information on the two.
Over a week later, the police received a call regarding the pair’s whereabouts from a night clerk working at a motel in Daly City in San Mateo County. The clerk recognized the pair at the motel through the photographs that were put up on television. Thus, on December 21, 1988, Yolanda and her boyfriend, Zohelin Diaz, both 25, were arrested by the authorities. At the time of their arrest, a .25-caliber automatic pistol was found in Diaz’s possession.
While no motive was officially established, Novato police believed Yolanda had told her boyfriend, Diaz, about being allegedly sexually harassed at the home of her employers. However, sources alleged that the investigators presumed Yolanda might have cooked up the story to cover for her getting fired by the Stephenses. Yolanda and Diaz were illegal immigrants from Guatemala. Hence, the FBI was also involved, though not directly, with the homicide investigation. It was reported that neither of the accused had any criminal records. However, Diaz had been arrested in the past for trying to illegally enter the country.
Where Are Yolanda Segura and Zohelin Diaz Today?
The accused couple pleaded not guilty in court, but the jury was not convinced. Yolanda was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 6 years in prison. Diaz was convicted with charges of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, but he reportedly took his own life. As far as Yolanda’s current whereabouts are concerned, she has most likely been released from prison and is seemingly keeping her personal life under the radar. After the Stephenses murder, the baby was placed in a foster home by a Marin County judge.
Tracy petitioned for custody of Travis but was contested by relatives of the Stephenses. However, on January 3, 1989, Superior Court Juvenile Commissioner Sylvia Shapiro ruled that since the adoption still was not finalized, the Stephenses were not legally the parents of Travis. Shapiro awarded Tracy custodial rights, which required her to take parenting classes and submit monthly reports to the court to be reviewed after 6 months. As per reports, Tracy lived in Billerica, Massachusetts, with her mother and worked in a state mental institution. To continue working, she had arranged full-time child care for Travis.