Suspects arrested in garage killing
Two men have been arrested in connection with the slaying of a 25-year-old Christopher West, who was found dead Sunday morning at a Sandpoint towing garage.
Kenneth E. Thurlow, 45, and Christopher A. Lewers, both of Sandpoint, were arrested Wednesday after police were able to place them at the scene of the killing, said Sandpoint Police Chief Mark Lockwood.
The homicide is believed to be drug-related, Lockwood said.
Thurlow and Lewers are expected to make their first appearance in court today on first-degree murder charges.
West had gone to the Evergreen Towing garage property Saturday night to work on his pickup truck behind the garage, according to police and family.
A man who lives on the garage property discovered West’s body lying near the pickup, where his work lights were still illuminated, about 8 a.m. Sunday morning. West died from a gunshot wound to the head, police said.
Lockwood wouldn’t say Wednesday evening if the weapon had been recovered.
“We’ve been working it since Sunday and we’ve been gathering information and intelligence and through subsequent interviews and tips from the public added to this, (we had) probable cause to obtain an arrest warrant for Thurlow and pick up Mr. Lewers,” Lockwood said, adding that the assistance of an investigative team from the Idaho State Police has been invaluable.
Lockwood wouldn’t say exactly what evidence placed the two men at the scene of the killing, but did say that the two men were acquaintances of West.
Thurlow was under surveillance all afternoon Wednesday, and when he left his home on Division Street, police followed him, Lockwood said. Four police cars pulled Thurlow over about 5 p.m. in heavy rush-hour traffic on Fifth Avenue in Sandpoint, near Serv-A-Burger restaurant.
“We believed he could be armed and dangerous,” Lockwood said.
Thurlow was then arrested without incident, Lockwood said.
Police picked up Lewers shortly before noon at the Blue Moon Café in downtown Sandpoint, where Lewers works in the kitchen. He was being held on a warrant out of Spokane stemming from a previous larceny charge.
West loved cars, according to his mother, dreamed of being a race car driver, and was a hard worker who loved life. He attended Sandpoint High School, where he built a car, and after high school worked in construction, logging and as a mechanic, and fought fires.
He has a 4-year-old son and was recently divorced.
Court records show he also had a few minor scrapes with the law. As a teenager, he seemed to collect traffic tickets. As an adult, he was charged once with drug possession in 2000, and was convicted of domestic battery in 2001, for which he served two years probation. Since then he’s been cited twice for failing to wear a seat belt.
West’s homicide is the first in the city limits since the 1993 killing of Ampawn Tui Williams, according to funeral home director and former Bonner County Coroner Dale Coffelt. That homicide remains unsolved.