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North Idaho man charged in death of Washington woman

UPDATED: Sat., July 14, 2018, 7:50 p.m.

A Kamiah man has been charged with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing a Clarkston woman to death.

Cole J. Marcell, 24, originally of Lewiston, had an initial appearance Friday afternoon in Nez Perce County 2nd District Court. Magistrate Judge Greg Kalbfleisch set bond at $1 million, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 25.

Marcell appeared by video from the Nez Perce County Jail and sat with his hands folded in front of his face while answering Kalbfleisch’s questions with a simple “yes, sir” or “no, sir.” Nez Perce County Prosecutor Justin Coleman said he will decide whether to seek the death penalty after the homicide investigation concludes.

The body found Saturday at Mud Springs Pond near Winchester has been identified as 32-year-old Sarah N. Warden. An autopsy report found Warden had numerous slashes and puncture wounds that appeared to come from a knife. The autopsy also found she had signs of head trauma. The body had decomposed and may have been at the pond for as long as a month, according to court records.

Court records indicate Marcell allegedly intended to rob Warden of a Social Security check valued at $800.

Marcell was arrested in connection to the murder Wednesday by Orofino police after he reported for a probation meeting. Officers targeted Marcell as a suspect after he allegedly admitted to stabbing a woman to two fellow inmates in June at the Clearwater County Jail, where he was incarcerated on unrelated charges. Marcell allegedly told the inmates he “stabbed Sarah in the throat.” He also claimed he ordered two accomplices to stab Warden 10 times each so they would be implicated in the murder and not “snitch” on him, according to court records.

Warden’s debit card was found on Marcell when he was arrested, as well as a large, sheathed knife.

Marcell and two other unidentified people – a man and a woman – reportedly took Warden out near Waha sometime between June 1-7. That’s where Marcell allegedly slit Warden’s throat with a fillet knife. Marcell told investigators the two unidentified people with him each stabbed Warden multiple times.

Nez Perce County Sheriff Joe Rodriguez said the case is being investigated and deputies are seeking information about the two unidentified individuals. Rodriguez declined to release any details on other possible suspects, saying he didn’t want to tip anyone off. Rodriguez said additional search warrants are being executed but the exact location of where Warden was killed is not clear.

Rodriguez said Marcell was acquainted with Warden.

Information about the case originally was withheld since the body was found on Nez Perce Tribal land, and the FBI took the lead on the investigation and clamped down on releasing details.

Warden was last seen alive May 31 in Clarkston.

Marcell was questioned after his arrest Wednesday and claimed he took Warden out near Zaza and Soldier’s Meadow roads along with the two other individuals. He claimed the unidentified man grabbed Warden out of the truck and told him to slash her throat. Marcell allegedly admitted to “barely” cutting Warden’s throat, drawing blood.

The case is being tried in Nez Perce County since Marcell told investigators the alleged killing took place near Waha, about 22 miles from where Warden’s body was found.

Marcell has a lengthy criminal history spanning from the time he was a juvenile. Much of his past charges involve battery and are comprised of mostly misdemeanor offenses including drug possession and theft. Marcell was charged with felony domestic battery and attempted strangulation in Clearwater County in September 2013, but he pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge.


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