An Eastern Washington University student died Saturday after being dragged as many as four miles behind a pickup truck down a rural Pend Oreille County road by a teen who told officials he thought he was being chased by an ax-wielding assailant, police said.
Facing murder charges in connection with the bizarre Saturday night tragedy is a 45-year-old Newman Lake man who authorities say tied Jerid S. Sturman-Camyn to the truck without the teen driver’s knowledge. The victim, described as a martial arts expert, had threatened several people with an ax during a night of heavy drinking in a hunting camp off North LeClerc Creek Road near Usk, Wash., according to the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office.
Wendell C. Sinn Jr. was booked into the Pend Oreille County Jail on suspicion of second-degree murder in connection with the death.
The victim had allegedly “lost control of his temper” and threatened several individuals at the campsite on the east bank of the Pend Oreille River, the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release issued Sunday evening. At one point, witnesses told investigators, Sturman-Camyn armed himself with an ax.
Sinn told sheriff’s investigators he was afraid for his safety and that of those at the campsite, and during the altercation with Sturman-Camyn told a 17-year-old boy to start his pickup truck and “be ready to leave if things got bad.”
There were at least eight people at the campsite at the time, investigators said.
While the teen was waiting in the truck, Sinn attached a rope to the truck’s trailer hitch and then around Sturman-Camyn, and yelled for the teen to drive, authorities said. The teen, who was not identified, told police he was unaware that Sturman-Camyn was tied to the truck and drove away in fear.
At about 11:30 p.m., the teen called police and said he believed someone was chasing him down the road with an ax.
As the teen was on the phone with emergency dispatchers, another person called to report that a white Ford F250 pickup was driving down the road dragging a body.
Deputies found the 17-year-old parked in the truck on the side of the road, about four miles from the campsite. They found Sturman-Camyn dead behind the truck. It is unclear whether the 17-year-old boy faces charges.
According to his personal Web page, Sturman-Camyn, whose nickname is “Bubba,” is heavily involved in martial arts and combat sport fighting.
He belongs to the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club of Spokane.
A man who answered the phone at the club Sunday night said Sturman-Camyn had been training there for about eight months.
Sturman-Camyn attended high school in Western Washington.
He was studying civil engineering at EWU and had previously attended Washington State University.
On his MySpace page, Sturman-Camyn wrote that he is “known to get a little wild at times and I like to live by the motto ‘go big or go home!’ “