The teen accused of killing a mother, her son and trying to kill her husband in a South Hill home was arrested Saturday evening in a parked car just as a SWAT team was ready to storm his home about three miles away.
Travis Robert Ault, 18, was arrested without incident about 6:10 p.m. on Richard Allen Court on Spokane’s lower South Hill after a woman called police and told them she was heading there with Ault, said Lt. Scott Stephens, Spokane police major crimes and SWAT commander.
Ault was expected to be booked into Spokane County Jail on two counts of first-degree murder, said police spokesman Dick Cottam.
The arrest put an end to what police described as a massive 20-hour manhunt.
Stephens said the driver made the call without Ault knowing it.
“Unbeknownst to him, she basically delivered him to us,” Stephens said. “It’s somewhat a relief not only for the police but for the public. It’s very disconcerting to have a murder suspect running around at large.”
Police received the tip just as a SWAT team was about to enter the home where Ault lived at 38th Avenue and Regal. Several officers at the scene rushed to Richard Allen Court to assist there as the SWAT team waited for news of an arrest.
Officers suspected Ault was inside the home because his parents had called police to report a ladder against the side of the house that hadn’t been there earlier, said police Lt. Gill Moberly.
Ault is accused of killing Doreen Britt, 52, and her son, Wesley G. Myers, 18,and trying to kill Britt’s husband, Gary Frost, at their home at 5203 S. Stone Lane on Friday night.
Britt was working as the program coordinator for the Center for Prevention at Educational Service District 101 in Spokane.
“This is a devastating blow to the entire ESD family,” said Steve Witter, District 101 spokesman. “Doreen was extremely well-liked and popular with her co-workers.”
Previously, Britt had been an adolescent outreach specialist with Deaconess Medical Center.
“She was very kid-savvy. She could relate to kids and adults alike,” said Kara Twining, a former East Valley High School counselor who collaborated with Britt when she worked at Deaconess. “She had a very, very, very strong passion for kids and helping them through hard times.”
Frost was severely beaten with an object and suffered a broken jaw and arm, said Sgt. Joe Peterson, supervisor of major crime investigations. He was able to escape to a neighbor’s home, from which police were called about 8:30 p.m. Frost was listed in serious condition Saturday afternoon at a local hospital, Cottam said.
Ault apparently went to the home to visit Myers, but a motive in the killings is unclear, police said. Investigators have received information that Ault and Myers were known to smoke marijuana together, Stephens said.
“How can anybody do this type of thing and why, I’m baffled by these things,” Peterson said.
Police found Britt in the living room and Myers was found upstairs, Cottam said. At least one of the victims was shot.
Ault’s father, Jerry Crow, said that he and his wife persuaded him to surrender to police after he arrived home Friday night. They got into their car and headed for the Public Safety Building.
“We told him, ‘It’s going to be the best thing for you, you have to have this taken care of,’ ” Crow said Saturday, as he waited for SWAT officers to enter his home. “We talked him into going down there last night. We came off the freeway between Second and Third (avenues), stopped at the light and he jumped out. He’s not a bad kid. We just want him to be safe.”
Ault’s parents continued to the police station where their report sparked a massive police search downtown that came up empty.
Crow said Ault and his sister came to Spokane from Seattle about 18 months ago to live with their grandmother. Crow said he and his wife moved to Spokane in August. Ault was not attending school.
Ault has been the defendant in three felony cases in King County Juvenile Court. The most recent was filed in September.
Detectives have recovered the weapons they believe were used. Peterson declined to say what other weapons were involved besides a gun, but at the crime scene Friday Sgt. Brad Arleth said a neighbor reported seeing a man at the home with a baseball bat.
“Anymore, I don’t think there’s any place in any neighborhood in any city of America that can’t be touched by something like this,” Peterson said.