A 16-year-old high school dropout was charged Monday with first-degree murder in the death of an 11-year-old neighbor.
Bail was set at $500,000 for Travis Richards, being held in Clark County Jail in the death of Joshua Allen Nelson.
Superior Court before Judge James Ladley appointed Vancouver attorney Paul Bruce to represent Richards, who was expected to enter a plea Friday to the charge.
Though Richards is a juvenile, a law passed last year requires him to be tried as an adult due to the seriousness of the crime.
He was arrested Sunday after authorities found Nelson’s body in a crawl space under the floor of Richards’ home. Police had to cut out a portion of the floor to remove the body.
An autopsy showed that Nelson died of “blunt force trauma” to the head. Police would not say whether a weapon had been recovered.
Nelson had been missing since Wednesday.
The motive for the killing was unknown, Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Jeannie Bryant told Ladley on Monday.
“The suspect won’t talk to us,” said police Capt. Bob Kanekoa.
Richards helped post fliers during the search for Nelson and even asked for extra copies, neighbors said.
“(Travis) was right alongside of me during the search,” said neighbor Robert Grendahl, 17. “He kept saying, ‘I hope we find him. I hope he’s OK.”’
Neighborhood youngsters said it was not uncommon for Richards and Joshua Nelson to fight with each other. The two families had lived next to each other for more than two years, and friends and neighbors said the two boys often played basketball at the hoop their rental homes shared.
Richards had pleaded guilty in Clark County Juvenile Court to two incidents over the past couple of years. In 1993 he admitted stealing a couple of guns from his stepfather and shooting out the window of a pickup. In 1994, he pleaded guilty to harassment for passing a bomb threat to staff members at a Hazel Dell group home where he was staying.
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