A knock at the door a year ago turned into a harrowing chore for an Elk man, who told police he helped bury the woman found in a makeshift grave this week.
The new details emerged Friday as Jason D. Flett, 27, appeared in court on suspicion that he stabbed ex-girlfriend Ramona Childress, then 27, to death sometime last year. A Spokane County district judge on Friday afternoon set Flett’s bail on a second-degree murder charge at $1 million.
Authorities believe the remains exhumed Thursday are Childress’, but the medical examiner is testing to verify the identity.
Flett, a family friend who spent part of his childhood at the home in Elk, came to the man’s door sometime in September 2012 and told him to put on shoes and grab shovels, he told police. The two emerged from the home and walked down the driveway, where the resident thought he was going to help Flett dig his car out of the mud.
Instead, the man told police, he found Flett’s car parked at the end of the driveway about six miles east of the rural northern Spokane County community. Flett’s current girlfriend, who now accuses Flett of assaulting her with a crowbar, was there looking toward the woods. The man’s gaze fell upon a woman’s body, obviously dead, he told police. Flett struck the body twice in the head with a shovel, according to court documents. The two men then proceeded to dig a hole, with Flett threatening to kill the man and his girlfriend if they told anyone about the burial.
Flett said the dead woman was Childress and that he stabbed her to keep her from going to police “about something” that could send him back to jail, the man told police. Flett had served a nearly seven-year sentence for a 2005 stabbing.
“I’m appreciative he came forward,” Childress’ brother, Abe Carroll, said of the witness who contacted police through an attorney Wednesday. Speaking with reporters outside the courtroom, Carroll said the man is “the only puzzle piece” the family has to understand what happened to his sister. But Carroll said the family could not understand why it took so long for him to come forward, and why Flett’s current girlfriend remained silent.
“She’ll be brought to justice as well,” Carroll said.
A different confidential source told investigators Flett was trying to get out of his relationship with Childress as early as summer 2012. At the time, Flett was involved in a series of home invasions targeting known drug houses, according to the informant, and Flett feared Childress might go to police.
Interviews with police have not yet revealed the circumstances leading to the alleged stabbing. Childress’ mother was alerted to her disappearance when she failed to come pick up her children or retrieve from her lawyer a check for damages in a traffic collision.
Investigators were led to the grave site Thursday by the man who allegedly helped bury Childress. The plot lies within a span of 10 acres sold to a neighbor some time after the burial, the man said.