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More suspects identified in ice-pick killing

Case ‘just keeps going,’ sheriff says

A pregnant Tonasket woman who was beaten and stabbed to death with an ice pick a month ago was the apparent victim of a murder-for-hire plot that stemmed from an affair with the husband of one of her alleged killers, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said Wednesday.

Two more suspects in the case were identified on Tuesday, bringing to four the number of persons charged in connection with the slaying of Michelle L. Kitterman, 25.

Kitterman was at least 11 weeks pregnant and was thought to have been involved with the husband of Lacey K. Hirst-Pavek, 33, of Tonasket, who was arrested at her parents’ home Tuesday night on charges of first-degree murder and manslaughter. She was booked into Okanogan County Jail.

An arrest warrant for first-degree murder was issued for David Eugene Richards, 33, of Spokane.

Authorities are searching for Richards, who is believed to be in the Spokane area.

Hirst-Pavek is accused of offering $500 and arranging to have three people kill Kitterman because of the affair, Rogers said.

“None of this makes sense to us,” the sheriff said Wednesday. “She was angry over the affair.”

The sheriff did not identify the husband.

According to Rogers, when Hirst-Pavek learned of her husband’s affair, she commented that she wanted Kitterman dead and tried to find someone who would beat up the woman.

Hirst-Pavek was acquainted with Tansy Fae Mathis, 29, formerly of Tonasket, and after meeting her several times, the two reached an agreement to “take care of” Kitterman for $500, Rogers said.

Three days before the homicide, Hirst-Pavek rented a vehicle that is believed to have been used by the killers. The vehicle came from a car dealership in Omak where Hirst-Pavek was working and was then turned over to Mathis.

Mathis is accused of getting Richards and a fourth suspect, Brent L. Phillips, 38, of Spokane, to become part of the brutal confrontation of Kitterman at a driveway along Stalder Road near Tonasket, Rogers said.

Kitterman was found dead along the driveway on March 1.

Richards earlier in the investigation told detectives that his ice pick had been stolen by Phillips, and he denied involvement in the killing. But investigators said they have evidence showing that Richards was involved in the ice-pick stabbing.

The vehicle was cleaned and returned to the car dealership, investigators said.

Phillips and Mathis, both arrested last week, are being held on $1 million bail. Phillips, who goes by the nickname “Hollywood” and has had several convictions for assault, is being held on charges of first-degree murder, manslaughter and evidence tampering. Mathis is charged with first-degree murder.

Rogers said his investigators at first were puzzled why such a group would get involved in a murder-for-hire plot. Then he learned that Hirst-Pavek may have convinced the suspects that Kitterman was a police informant, which she was not.

Even more arrests are possible. Detectives believe there were other persons involved in cleaning the vehicle or hiding evidence.

“It just keeps going,” Rogers said of the case. “Every time you turn a corner, there is something new.”

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