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Seven implicated after burned body found near Long Lake

Tue., March 11, 2014

Seven people have been implicated in a grisly homicide discovered near Long Lake in Stevens County last week.

Police recovered the burned corpse of a man thought to be David Whitman.

Stevens County Coroner Patti Hancock said she could not make a positive identification.

Detectives said Whitman had been beaten with a baseball bat, shot multiple times, and then doused in gasoline and set on fire.

One by one, the suspects in the kidnapping and killing of Whitman appeared in Spokane County District Court on Monday afternoon.

Witnesses said Whitman was killed because fellow alleged drug dealers said he owed them large debts and stole drugs.

Police learned of the death through a confidential informant, then interviewed a woman last week who said she was Whitman’s girlfriend. She said she’d gone with him to an address near the intersection of West Knox Avenue and North Maple Street on Feb. 28, where she saw the home’s owner, Joe Gillespie, hit Whitman multiple times with a baseball bat. The beating followed a dispute with the two alleged drug dealers, Dillon Casteel and Domingo Valdovinos, and a third man, Benito Baldovinos-Mendoza.

According to the woman, Casteel convinced Valdovinos that Whitman was stealing money and methamphetamine.

The men and two women dragged her into a bedroom, and bound and gagged her, according to records.

The women were identified in court records as Jenny Rogers, 32, and Christine Morlan, 39.

When Whitman’s girlfriend managed to free herself, Casteel and Valdovinos and Whitman were gone, and Rogers and Morlan were scrubbing blood from the floors and walls, according to court documents.

Casteel held the woman against her will for three days, during which he allegedly sold drugs. When he released her, he said that if she told anyone what she saw they would kill her and her family, according to court documents.

Whitman’s mother had also been present at the house, asleep in the car outside. When she awoke, she found herself in the Huckleberry’s grocery parking lot on the South Hill, according to court documents.

Police arrested Valdovinos on Thursday. He told police he, Baldovinos-Mendoza and Casteel beat Whitman with bats and shot him with semi-automatic weapons. Valdovinos said he joined in the beating because he feared his uncle, Baldovinos-Mendoza, would kill him if he didn’t. He told police where they could find the body.

Two other suspects implicated in the kidnapping and murder scheme, Teresa Geile and Gillespie, have also been arrested.

Bond for each suspect has been set at $500,000 or more on their criminal charges.

Whitman’s shooting death is the fourth homicide in Spokane County this year.


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