Local news

Police find homicide suspect’s stolen vehicle

UPDATED: SUNDAY, FEB. 12, 2012, 5:33 P.M.

Spokane Police have the blue 2007 Nissan Pathfinder towed from a parking lot of the Washington State Department of Ecology offices southwest of the Monroe Street and Wellesley Avenue intersection in north Spokane. Police believe the vehicle was stolen by Dustin Gilman,22, a suspect in a triple homicide Friday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Tracy Ader and her sons, who were killed on Feb. 10, 2012. (Courtesy Spokane Police Department )

Spokane police today found the vehicle stolen by the suspect in a triple homicide Friday. But they still have not located Dustin William Gilman, 22, who is considered armed and dangerous.

The blue 2007 Nissan Pathfinder was found in a parking lot just west of the Washington state Department of Ecology office, near the intersection Monroe Street and Wellesley Avenue in north Spokane.

“Every cop in the city is chomping at the bit to find this guy,” Sgt. Sean Nemec said.

More than 100 family and friends gathered Sunday afternoon for a candlelight vigil near the home where Tracy Ader and her sons, 8 and 10, were slain.

One of those persons feared that Gilman might arrive and asked for police presence.

“A woman at the vigil contacted an officer. She told him that the car we were looking for was behind the Zip Trip. We rushed immediately over here and sure enough it was here,” Nemec said.

Nemec said officers could not see any weapons in the Pathfinder, which was parked in the southern most set of stalls a block south of the Zip Trip. Officers brought in a police dog but it was unable to pick up the suspect’s trail.

The vehicle was taken to a police processing station for closer inspection. “We are trying to get it towed without touching it because we are going to process every inch of it,” Nemec said.

Police today also searched the home of Gilman’s father, Larry Gilman, who lives about two blocks from where the Pathfinder was found. The house was cleared without finding the suspect, Major Crimes Detective Mark Griffiths said.

Larry Gilman on Saturday told The Spokesman-Review that he believes his son likely committed suicide.

Sgt. Nemec said Gillman told his father that he was in an area north of Spokane. “We searched that whole area but we didn’t find anything,” Nemec said. “We were half thinking he was halfway to California or Utah. We just don’t know.”

Dustin Gilman had been living with Ader and her husband, Nick Ader, at their home for several months. He watched over the two boys, attended family gatherings and celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving at the Spokane Valley home of Tracy Ader’s stepfather, Steve Ponsness.

Griffiths said investigators are operating under the belief that Gilman remains in Spokane. However, alerts have been sent via the National Crime Information Center to all 49 other states and they have alerted border agents to be on the lookout.

“We’ve checked a few residences nearby where he had some sort of connection in the past,” Griffiths said. “We have a witness who saw the vehicle at 5 p.m. yesterday. The car was here, which leads us to continue to search in this area.”

Several weapons were taken from the house where Ader and her children were found. “We have no reason to believe (Gilman) is not armed,” Griffiths said. “I imagine family and friends are as afraid of him as eveyone else.”

At the vigil, held at the intersection of Whitehouse Street and Heroy Avenue, well wishers piled flowers, stuffed animals and baloons. Candles burned and the melted wax spilled in small streams into the gutter.

“It’s just unbelievable,” said friend Lisa Stueve, whose children were friends with the Ader boys. “They were just the nicest family. The toughest part is trying to help the kids understand.”

Debby Rigsby said her son was best friends with one of the Ader boys.

“It’s devastating. It’s horrible. It’s sickening,” she said, looking at the shrine. “My kids are taking it hard. They will be missed.”

Nick Ader attended the vigil but declined to comment.

His first cousin, Darek Phillips and his wife Annie, were there to make sure Nick Ader had family nearby.

“It’s a comfort seeing how the community joins together like this,” Darek Phillips said. “I just hope they find (the suspect) so he can pay for what he has done.”

Tags: homicide

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