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Former suspects released in assault case

The investigation into what was reported as the attempted murder of a father and the kidnapping of a young boy has been reopened after charges were dismissed against a couple originally implicated in the attack.

Authorities have released 30-year-old Gary L. Houchins and 19-year-old Cecelia L. Rocha after accusing them of the brutal attack based on witness statements.

Houchins and Rocha turned themselves in soon after Crime Stoppers issued an alert July 22 seeking information that would lead to their arrests. But Houchins later passed a lie-detector test and the case against both has been dismissed.

Houchins recently contacted The Spokesman-Review, writing “we were falsely accused of this crime and falsely incarcerated for it.” The case was “all lies that have now ruined our” lives. He couldn’t be reached for further comment, but court records confirm charges in the case were dismissed.

Spokane County sheriff’s Detective Mike Ricketts said the case remains under investigation. Because of that, he said he could not explain why the two victims and witnesses identified Houchins, only to have the case dismissed.

“I don’t want to comment on any of that right now,” Ricketts said.

The investigation began after a north Spokane County man, Jeremy Clark, suffered facial fractures and broken ribs during what he described as an attack by two assailants wearing pantyhose masks.

According to court records, Clark’s son said he was home alone in the evening of July 11 when the masked man and woman burst into the home, in the 12000 block of North Cuba Road, and used zip ties and duct tape to fasten the boy’s wrists to a stud wall in the basement. The assailants then attacked Clark when he returned from a restaurant at 1:57 a.m., according to court records.

The boy escaped and summoned the help of a neighbor. Clark, the neighbor and the boy all identified Houchins and Rocha as the assailants. Neither Clark nor the neighbor could be reached for comment.