Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Cell tower info may aid murder probe

Detectives are seeking cellphone tower location information for phones belonging to a Spokane murder victim and two men with romantic ties to her.

 Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34, was found dead of a gunshot wound to her head Jan. 1 in what the medical examiner's office has ruled a homicide.

According to court documents filed today, a man with whom Schmidt had past romantic ties with told detectives they recently began rekindling their relationship and that he was to spend New Year's Eve with her, but she cancelled about 10:40 p.m.

The man told detectives he knew Schmidt was seeing another man that night, documents say. That man told detectives he last saw Schmidt about 4 a.m. when she was sleeping in her bedroom.  Schmidt's daughter saw the two together earlier that night when they dropped her off at a friend's home for a party.

Both men allowed detectives to review their cellphones. Detectives say the men had “numerous text correspondents” with Schmidt on Dec. 31.

Spokane County sheriff's Detective Mike Drapeau filed search warrants with phone companies last week seeking cell tower information for the three phones that could help him determine where the three were about the time of the murder, according to documents filed today. Results have not been released.

Drapeau said in January that he believes one of the men is a likely suspect.

Schmidt’s mother found Schmidt dead in her home at 37 E. Regina Ave. on Jan. 1. Detectives seized a cloth drawstring bag with a gun barrel sticking out. Drapeau said he believes a .25-caliber semi-automatic handgun was the homicide weapon, but he has to wait for the lab to confirm it.

Detectives also are looking into two civil lawsuits that name Schmidt and scuba diving instructor Daniel R. Arteaga, who both worked part time for the Scuba Center of Spokane. The suits involve two scuba diving accidents; on that left a man dead another that allegedly left a woman with brain damage.

Arteaga and Schmidt were notified about the pending suit two and a half weeks before Schmidt was murdered. Schmidt was expected to be a key witness in the case.

Schmidt, a Spokane native and graduate of Shadle Park High School, worked at Pitney Bowes with Tracy Ader, Tracy Ader, who was killed with her two sons in February by 22-year-old Dustin Gilman, who killed himself.

Past coverage:

Jan. 11: Murder victim's family grateful for support

Man beaten while breaking up party dies

The Spokane veteran’s hospital community is grieving for a beloved employee who died after being assaulted while trying to break up an underage party.

 Frank James Motta, a retired high school principal, teacher and football coach, began volunteering at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2009 and was hired as a patient’s advocate four months ago. His wife, Virginia, and daughter, Jami, also volunteer there.

Motta was attacked by a partygoer while trying to break up a large gathering at his neighbor’s house. The neighor was out of town and had asked Motta to clear out the party, thrown by her teenage son. Motta died Thursday night at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, friends confirmed.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 14: Man badly beaten while trying to break up party

Ex-Spokane man faces life for murder

A 27-year-old Pasco murder suspect facing life in prison under the three-strikes law got his first strike in Spokane County.

Joseph William Hart pleaded not guilty Tuesday n Franklin County Superior Court for second-degree murder.

Hart is accused of killing Rodger A. Lincoln, 53, outside their east Pasco mobile home last Tuesday.

Hart was 20 years old when he was convicted in Spokane County of first-degree robbery and sentenced to 46.5 month in prison. Hart stabbed a man after the man picked Hart up in a car near Coeur d'Alene Park in Browne's Addition in May 2004.

Hart got his second strike in prison for beating up a cellmate, according to the Tri-City Herald.

Though Hart's defense attorney, Scott Johnson, told Judge Craig Matheson that he's not requesting an evaluation of his client's competency, Johnson did note that “there are clearly mental health issues in this case,” according to the Associated Press.

Hart and Lincoln shared a home in the Sundance Mobile Home Park, 925 N. Elm Ave. space 72. The mobile home is one of several owned by Lourdes Health Network and is used as supported housing for people with mental illnesses.

Lincoln died of multiple stab wounds to his head and torso, autopsy results showed.

Hart is being held in the Franklin County jail on $750,000 bail.

Did ‘Whitey’ Bulger write his memoirs?

By DENISE LAVOIE,AP Legal Affairs Writer

BOSTON (AP) — Mobster James “Whitey” Bulger may have written two autobiographies, according to prosecutors, who have notified his lawyers that they may use the memoirs against him at his upcoming trial.

Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang and a longtime FBI informant, was captured last year in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years on the run. He is charged with participating in 19 murders and is awaiting trial.

In a status report filed in court Tuesday, federal prosecutors said they found one document, entitled “My Life in the Irish Mafia Wars,” at a South Boston home in 1995 and a second document at the apartment in Santa Monica where Bulger was captured last year with his girlfriend.

Prosecutors say it's unclear whether Bulger wrote the document found in South Boston. They say the document found in California “appears to be autobiographical.”

The government included descriptions of the documents in a list of evidence prosecutors have turned over to Bulger's lawyers but didn't reveal specifically what was written in them. Prosecutors informed Bulger's lawyers that they may use the document found in 1995 “as evidence in (the) case-in-chief and/or to impeach the defendant” at his trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 5.

Bulger's lawyer J.W. Carney Jr. did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz declined to comment.

In the new court documents, prosecutors list hundreds of pieces of evidence they say they have turned over to the defense, including: surveillance photos and video of various locations frequented by Bulger and other members of his gang; crime scene and medical examiner photos of people Bulger and his gang are accused of killing; and statements made by Bulger, including those included in his FBI informant file. The list of evidence was filed in court ahead of a March 19 status conference in the case.

Bulger, who gave the FBI information on the rival New England Mob, fled Boston in late 1994 after being tipped by his former FBI handler, John Connolly Jr., that he was about to be indicted. Connolly later was convicted of racketeering for warning Bulger about the impending indictment.

Bulger, now 82, has pleaded not guilty. His girlfriend, Catherine Greig, 60, (pictured right) is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to charges she helped Bulger evade capture during their 16 years on the run together.

June 29: Case continues against 'Whitey' Bulger

June 24: Boston mob boss hid in plain sight

No death penalty for racist double killer

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — A man pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of his father and stepmother after a prosecutor decided not to seek the death penalty.

David”Joey” Pedersen, 31, is set to be sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole, the only other possible sentence, The Daily Herald reported (http://is.gd/oCxIAI ).

Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe has not yet announced a decision on whether to seek the death penalty for Pedersen's girlfriend, Holly Grigsby, 28, who also was charged with aggravated murder in the September killings of 56-year-old David “Red” Pedersen and 69-year-old Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen.

The prosecutor said he declined to pursue the death sentence for Joey Pederson after police turned up significant and credible evidence that his father had sexually abused his children and others decades ago. Joey Pedersen said the abuse was the reason he chose to kill his father.

Joey Pedersen and Grigsby, who have white supremacist ties, also are accused of killing 19-year-old Cody Myers in western Oregon because his name sounded Jewish, and Reginald Clark near Eureka, Calif., because he was black. Those crimes potentially could result in federal prosecution because of civil rights issues.

Red Pedersen was shot once in the back of the head while he drove the suspects to a bus station in Everett after a visit. His son was accused of firing the fatal shot. Investigators believe the suspects then returned to the couple's home to kill DeeDee Pedersen.

Investigators found her bound with duct tape with her throat slashed. The evidence suggests Grigsby wielded the knives, court papers said.

DeeDee Pedersen was not married to Red Pederson (pictured right) at the time of the alleged child abuse and was in no position to prevent or even know about it, Roe said.

Family members of the victims did not agree with the prosecutor's decision against seeking the death penalty, even though Roe said it would have been appropriate.

“They were disappointed, but I believe understand my decision and my reasons for it,” Roe said in a statement.

Joey Pedersen was an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter. He grew up in Salem, Ore, and spent more than half of his life in prison, including an 11-year stint for threatening to murder a federal judge in Idaho. He was released in May.

After the homicides, investigators said he and Grigsby drove to Oregon in Red Pedersen's Jeep and ditched the vehicle with the slain man still inside off a logging road. Authorities believe they crossed paths with Cody Myers, who had left home to attend a jazz festival near the Oregon coast. Myers, a devout Christian, turned up dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

Investigators believe the couple continued to Eureka, where Clark, a disabled black man, was killed.

The suspects were arrested Oct. 5 north of Sacramento.

ast coverage:

Feb. 12: Murder spree suspeect wants Coco Puffs

Oct. 10: 4th victim identified in alleged murder spree

Oct. 6: Racist in murder spree threatened to kill Idaho judge

Oct. 5: Couple in NW. manhunt arrested in Calif.

Oct. 5: Body found in manhunt may be that of teen

DNA evidence tangles ‘07 murder case

Jerry Allen and his family are facing the rekindled pain of losing their uncle, John G. “Jack” Allen Jr., who was killed in 2007 at the age of 74. Jerry Allen did odd jobs for his uncle, who helped raise him. (SR/Colin Mulvany)

Water cascades from the roof in heavy droplets inside the abandoned brick-and-glass building on Sprague Avenue where an adult bookstore owner was bludgeoned to death nearly five years ago.

 Just as the building crumbles, cracks also have begun forming in the case against the admitted thief who was sent to prison for the brutal murder of 74-year-old John G. “Jack” Allen Jr.

DNA evidence on the murder weapon has implicated a new suspect in the 2007 slaying, which prosecutors successfully argued in 2008 was the work of just one man: Jeramie R. Davis, 41 (pictured).

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 5: New suspect charged in porn shop owner's murder

July 28: Convicted killer hopes for freedom

July 26: DNA reveals new suspect in 2007 slaying

Man guilty in Bayview hammer murder

In this Sept. 30 photo, Bayview hammer attack vicitm Yvonne Wallis says she wants Larry Cragun to receive the death penalty for the attack. (SR/Kathy Plonka)

A North Idaho man who bludgeoned four people with a hammer in a brutal murder in Bayview last year has pleaded guilty.

 Larry Ward Cragun, 32, faces a mandatory life sentence with possible eligibility for parole after 10 years when he’s sentenced in May, Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said Friday.

McHugh said he’ll recommend Cragun serve 40 years before he’s eligible for parole.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 23, 2011: Bayview victim: 'I'm just an invalid'

Dec. 20, 2010: 1 dead, 3 injured in Bayview hammer attack

TV show to feature Post Falls murders

In this 2008 photo, Kootenai County sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Maskell stands in the area where newspaper carrier Gary Loesch was murdered in November 1995. (SRarchives)

 A cable TV show on Saturday will feature the case of two fugitive North Idaho women who committed suicide in Arizona after America's Most Wanted detailed their ties to two murders.

 Tina R. Loesch (left) and Skye M. Hanson (right) were wanted for the 1998 murder of Loesch's mother, Barbara, and suspects in the 1995 murder of her father, Gary, when America's Most Wanted spotlighted them in November 2008.

Gary Loesch, who was killed while delivering copies of The Spokesman-Review, had written his daughter out of his will after she told him she was in a lesbian relationship with Hanson, according to previously published reports.

Detectives believe the women hired Bradley Steckman to kill Barbara Loesch, who was found dead in her hot tub with the TV inside. Steckman is serving life in prison for Loesch's murder and for the 1996 murder of an 89-year-old Pullman woman.

Police have long suspected the father-daughter rift and a $500,000 life insurance policy Tina Loesch took out on her mother were motives in the killings.

Post Falls police had been trying to find the women for years - they were last seen with Loesch's son, Kristopher, in Spokane in 2000. The night the program aired, Loesch and Hanson were found dead of suicide in their SUV northwest of Tucson. Police had no idea the women were in Arizona.

Lt. Greg McLean said Thursday that detectives still are trying to find Kristopher Loesch, who would be 21. Cadaver dogs have searched for his body in Arizona amidst rumors the couple had killed him, but his location still is unknown.

“We're not sure if he was dropped off somewhere before they decided to end their lives,” McLean said. “if he was, we haven't been able to find him yet.”

“It's just been a long-term investigation that in my opinion still hasn't been closed because we're still missing Kristopher,” McLean said.

The show airs at 9 p.m. as part of Investigation Discovery's new series, Deadly Sins. It features interviews with Loesch's brother, Charles Loesch, Paul Farina of the Post Falls Police Department and Brad Maskell of the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department. A channel finder is available here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 18, 2008: Murder suspects found dead in Arizona

Jan. 6, 2008: Missing women remain key in 2 murders

2 men get 25+ years in Colville murder

Two men will spend at least 25 years in prison for killing a 63-year-old homeowner last July near Colville.

  Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin, 27, (left) pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and Eric L. Booth, 26, (right) pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Wednesday in connection to the killing of Gordon Feist during a botched robbery attempt, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 26: Two more charged in Stevens County homcide

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Probe continues into triple homicide

“It was weird. We were in the middle of the game and he got up and said ‘Oh, I gotta go,’ ” Preston Kahanu said of triple-murder suspect Dustin Gilman. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

Preston Kahanu was asleep when Dustin Gilman called him that Friday morning, looking to hang out and play video games.

Gilman (pictured) stopped by Kahanu’s home in north Spokane about 10:45 a.m. but left abruptly after a couple of hours.

Kahanu, 25, now realizes he and his girlfriend, Saundra Warrington, 20, might have been the last to see the suspected triple killer alive. It was Feb. 10 and police believe Gilman, a 22-year-old Spokane native, had strangled Tracy A. Ader, 32, and her two sons earlier that day. They say he shot himself to death that evening in a wooded area in north Spokane County.

“There’s a lot of unknowns here,” Jeff Barrington, the lead detective on the case for the Spokane Police Department, said Tuesday. “We’re still investigating the whole thing.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 15: Gilman used victim's phone to contact her family

Feb. 14: Gilman called father before bodies were found

Feb. 13: Body of triple murder suspect found north of Spokane

Feb. 13: Killing suspect remains at large

Feb. 11: Killer sought in Spokane triple homicide

Man pleads not guilty in fatal stabbing

A man accused of stabbing another man to death in downtown Spokane pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a second-degree murder charge.

David J. Fagundes, Jr., 34, is accused of killing Casey W. Anderson, 23, during a fight that included Anderson peppery spraying Fagundes, according to court documents.

Anderson fell into traffic near the intersection of Third Avenue and Howard Street about 4:50 a.m. Feb. 19 with two stab wounds to his back and bite marks on his forehead.

Anderson broke into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, assaulted her and stole her cellphone, police say. He then went to Fagundes’ apartment at 225 S. Wall St., where the men fought and Fagundes bit Anderson on the forehead several times.

The two men fell to the floor and “Anderson apparently ‘fell’ on top of a ‘butterfly knife,’ ” according to documents prepared by police.

Detectives say Fagundes became uncooperative during questioning and tried to grab a concealed firearm. He was disarmed and detained after a brief struggle.

Fagundes has a felony conviction for burglary in Montana in 1996 that prohibits him from possessing firearms. He also has a conviction in Bonner County for felony battery.

Fagundes remains in jail on $100,000 bond after his arraignment Tuesday before Superior Court Judge Annette Plese.

Body found downtown; suspect arrested

A man was found dead from a stab wound in a downtown Spokane street early Sunday.

The man has not been publicly identified, but suspect David Joseph Fagundes, Jr., 34, has been jailed on a second-degree murder charge.

The victim was found near the intersection of Howard Street and Third Avenue shortly before 5 a.m., according to the Spokane Police Department.

Police dispatched major crimes detectives to the scene. A portion of Third Avenue was closed to traffic for about four hours as police scoured the scene for clues.

Fagundes also faces a charge of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm because of a previous felony conviction, according to the jail roster. '

Fagundes has a felony conviction in Bonner County, Idaho, for felony battery. He also had a misdemeanor warrant there for failing to pay fines on convictions for driving without privileges and failure to provide proof of insurance.
  

Public invited to Aders’ memorial

Melted and lit candles mix on the curb at the Ader family memorial at Heroy Avenue and Whitehouse Street Sunday. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

A mother and her two sons killed in a triple homicide last week will be remembered Sunday.

 The public is invited to attend the memorial service for Tracy Ader, 32, and her sons Damien, 10, and Kadin, 8, who police say were strangled in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St. Friday by Dustin William Gilman, 22.

 Gilman, who had been staying with the family for several months, was found dead Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

Ader's stepfather, Steve Ponsness, said today that the public has been overwhelming supportive. They're holding the service at Turning Point Open Bible church, 11911 N. Division St., at 3 p.m. to make sure everyone can attend.

“The public has just been awesome, so how could I deny the public from being there?” Ponsness said. “That'd be just stupid.”

Ponsness' brother, Dave, will host the service.

“God has given me the strength to be able to basically deal with everything and not break down emotionally,” Ponsness said. “Until yesterday.”

Ader and her sons were found dead in the basement of the home Friday. The boys’ bodies were located near marijuana plants in the basement.

Ponsness said Tracy's husband, Nick, is authorized to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes because of ailments like gouty arthritis.

Tracy was visiting him in the hospital Thursday and Friday, where he was being treated for pancreatitis, when she returned home Friday to check on the boys, who weren't in school that morning.

The police investigation into the triple homicide is ongoing.

Ponsess said he's still struggling to understand why thishappened, though he realizes he may never know.

“It's almost like he had a split personality, because there's no way in this world I would have ever suspected him of doing something like this, because those kids loved him,” Ponsness said of Gilman.

He said Damien and Kadin fought like brothers do, but “I was watching them mature to the point where I could just see them growing up into a great little young men,” Ponsness said. “To have them ripped away like that is just something that's really hard to swallow.”

A fund to help cover funeral expenses for the Aders is available at Numerica Credit Union.

Read their obituary here.

Gilman used Aders’ phones after murder

Triple murder suspect Dustin William Gilman used his victim’s cellphone to text message her husband after he killed her, according to new court documents.

Nick Ader, who was in the hospital with pancreatitis, told police he received two text messages from his wife’s phone at 9:49 a.m. and 9:51 a.m. Friday saying she was taking one of their sons to the hospital because of a fever.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 14: Gilman called father before bodies were found

Feb. 13: Body of triple murder suspect found north of Spokane

Feb. 13: Killing suspect remains at large

Feb. 11: Killer sought in Spokane triple homicide

Murder spree suspect wants Cocoa Puffs

(AP) EVERETT — Lawyers spent more than two hours arguing whether a woman charged with murder should be allowed to eat Cocoa Puffs and other snacks while in the county jail, the Everett Herald reported Tuesday.

And they're not done. Another hearing is scheduled for March, when a judge is expected to decide if jail staff must allow the woman access to the Snohomish County Jail's commissary, the paper said.

Attorneys for Holly Grigsby and David “Joey” Pedersen have filed motions complaining about jail conditions and that their clients are not allowed to use the jail store to supplement their meals. A hearing on the complaint went on for more than two hours Monday.

The pair are accused of killing Pedersen's father, David “Red” Pedersen, and his wife, DeeDee, of Everett, last September. Police believe the pair also killed two other people — an Oregon teenager and a disabled California man — in October before their capture in northern California.

Staff at the Snohomish County Jail said that inmates like Grigsby and Pedersen are denied commissary rights since they are maximum-security prisoners and because sugary snacks can be used to make jailhouse alcohol. Grigsby wanted to buy Cocoa Puffs and coffee.

Grigsby defense lawyer, Pete Mazzone, said it violates his client's constitutional rights to deny her access to the commissary based on the nature of the charges against her.

The Herald said Grigsby has received several violations since she's been incarcerated, including trying to brew alcohol in her cell.

Grigsby and Pedersen are white supremacists who reportedly claimed they wanted to “kill more Jews.”

Past coverage:

Oct. 10: 4th victim identified in alleged murder spree

Oct. 6: Racist in murder spree threatened to kill Idaho judge

Oct. 5: Couple in NW. manhunt arrested in Calif.

Oct. 5: Body found in manhunt may be that of teen

Man charged with woman’s Aug. murder

A sex offender suspected of killing a Spokane woman who was working as a prostitute last August has been charged with murder.

Derrick Ross Vargas, 25, is to appear in Superior Court today on a first-degree murder charge for the brutal slaying of Evon M. Moore, 48, whose body was found in an alley near North Ralph Street and East Riverside Avenue Aug. 13.

Vargas was released from federal prison on Aug. 2 after serving about four years for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl when he was 19.

He's been in the Spokane County Jail since Sept. 23 after a Washington State Patrol trooper contacted him during a traffic stop and a woman jumped out of his truck and said she'd been raped. 

Police say the woman was working as a prostitute on East Sprague Avenue when she met Vargas.

Police realized Vargas' truck matched a truck seen on the surveillance video near where Moore's body was found.

Detectives found a pair of shoes with blood on them in Vargas' East Trent Avenue apartment that matched the shoe tread pattern found near Moore's body. They also found a purse believed to belong to Moore, who was a student at Spokane Community College.

Spokane police recommended murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping charges against Vargas in a case sent to prosecutors earlier this month. Look for an update later this afternoon on the formal charges against Vargas, which were filed Monday.

New details in triple homicide case

Tracy Ader and her sons, 10-year-old Damien and 8-year-old Kadin, are shown in this undated family photo.

A man suspected of murdering a woman and her two sons told his father he’d shot someone before police even knew there was a crime scene Friday.

Spokane police were notified by 911 about 6:38 p.m. that Larry Gilman was talking to his son, Dustin Gilman, on the phone and that his son had confessed to shooting someone and said he was lost in the woods.

Larry Gilman told police that his son told him he’d been “partying all night on the South Hill” when he woke up with a gun and a dead person next to him, according to information released Tuesday.

Read the rest of my story here.

Suspect’s body found; questions remain

The body of Dustin Gilman is placed in the medical examiner’s van after it was discovered on property along the Little Spokane River on Monday. (Colin Mulvany/SRphoto)

A tracked cell phone signal led police Monday to the body of the suspected killer they’d been hunting ever since a mother and her two children were found dead Friday in their North Spokane home.

A police dog found 22-year-old Dustin William Gilman’s body in on a forested hillside near the Wandermere area, just north of Spokane city limits, about 10 a.m.

Gilman’s father and others had speculated earlier that he’d shot himself after fleeing the murder scene but Spokane police did not disclose how the suspect died or whether firearms were found near the body.

Gilman is the only suspect in the murders of Tracy Ann Ader, 32, and her sons, 8-year-old Kadin, and 10-year-old Damien, who were found dead in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 13: Killing suspect remains at large

Feb. 11: Killer sought in Spokane triple homicide

Trio charged in Bonner County homicide

A Bonner County man on Monday was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 19-year man who was reported missing in September and found recently buried in a shallow grave, the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office reported.

   Austin Blake Thrasher, 19, (left) is accused of killing Michael Wyatt Smith, (right) the sheriff’s office said.  

Thrasher’s wife, Jennifer Dunnagan Thrasher, 22, (bottom left) and Christopher Garlin, 19, (bottom right) each face a charge of accessory to murder.

Smith was reported missing Sept. 15 from a residence on the Hope Peninsula and was last seen walking on Penninsula Road in Hope on Sept. 13, the office reported.

Detectives received a tip early last month that a 19-year-old was picked up near Hope “on the pretense of attending a party,” the news release said.

Detectives were told that the teen was instead driven to a woods, shot twice and moved to an unknown location and buried.

Detectives found Smith’s body in a shallow grave on private property off of Wellington Road, north of Hope, the news release said.

The defendants already were in the Bonner County Jail when they became suspects in Smith’s murder.

Last month they were arrested in connection with the burglary of Pawn Now in Ponderay.

3 Charged In Bonner County Murder

Three Bonner County residents have been charged with the murder of Michael Wyatt Smith, 19, (below) who was last seen walking along Peninsula Road in Hope, Idaho, at 11 p.m. Sept. 13, according to the Bonner County Sheriff's Office. Austin Thrasher, 19, (upper left) Thrasher's wife, Jennifer, 22, (middle) and Christopher Garlin, 19, (upper right) of the Cocalalla and Hope areas were arrested after several vehicles and firearms were seized by the authorities. The sheriff's department was tipped off to the possible murder of Smith on Jan. 6. His body has since been found in a shallow grave off Wellington Road in the Rapid Lightening area. Next of kin were notified in California last week. Allegedly the three suspects picked Smith up under the pretense of attending a party. Later, he was reportedly taken into a treed area near Cocalalla and shot twice. His body was transported for burial. Thrasher has been charged with first-degree murder; his wife and Garlin with accessory to murder. More here.

Reaction?

Killer still sought in triple homicide

A 2007 Nissan Pathfinder is towed Sunday after being taken from the Aders’ home and left parked near Monroe Street and Wellesley Avenue. (SRphoto/Colin Mulvany)

UPDATE: Gilman's body has been found. Read more here and look for updates.

Police continue to search for a man suspected of killing two young boys and their mother Friday in Spokane.

Dustin William Gilman, 22, (pictured) is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees him or has information on where he may be should call 911.

Gilman has been wanted since Friday, when the bodies of Tracy Ader, 32, and her 8- and 10-year-old boys were found in their home at 4411 N. Whitehouse St. Police believe he may be heavily armed with weapons stolen from the home, including a bullet-proof vest.

Police believe Gilman murdered the three while Ader's husband, Nick Ader, was in the hospital. 

Gilman has been staying with the Aders for the last few months. Tracy Ader's mother and stepfather said he spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them at their Spokane Valley and was great with the boys.

Ader and her sons are pictured left in a photo provided by her family.

Ader worked at Pitney Bowes, a business service company, with Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34, who was found shot to death in her north Spokane home on New Year’s Day. No one has been arrested in that case, but sheriff’s detectives say they have a person of interest.

“Tracy was having a hard time dealing with that because (Schmidt) was a direct coworker of hers,” said Steve Ponsness, Ader's stepfather.

Ponsnesskept a gun at his side Saturday as police searched for Gilman, who is believed to have stolen Ader's 2007 Nissan Pathfinder.

A citizen spotted the Pathfinder near West Wellesley Avenue and North Monroe Street Sunday and notified police, who are searching it for evidence.

Gilman is a convicted felon who was sentenced to nine months in jail in 2009 after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree trafficking in stolen property. He has an extensive juvenile criminal history, including convictions in Kootenai County in 2005 for stolen property and car theft. Court records show he was arrested for assault when he was 10.

See a picture story about the case here.

Suspect displayed victim’s death notice

A Deer Park man accused of strangling his ex-wife and posing her dead body had her death certificate displayed in his home when detectives arrested him this week, detectives say.

  Clay Duane Starbuck, 47, is charged with aggravated first-degree murder and sexually violating human remains in the death of Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. The only other punishment if convicted of aggravated first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Starbuck, a former Alaska oil worker with no criminal history, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Friday afternoon via video from the jail after prosecutors formally charged him Thursday. He remains in jail on $1 million bond.

Read the rest of my story here.

Feb. 9: 911 dispatcher broke protocol in homicide call

Feb. 7: Police: Starbuck hid in home, posed ex-wife's body

Facebook unfriending leads to murders

MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. (AP) — A father who was upset after a Tennessee couple deleted his adult daughter as a friend on Facebook has been charged in the shooting deaths of the couple, authorities said Wednesday.

 The victims had complained to police that Marvin's Potter's daughter was harassing them after they deleted her as a friend on the social networking site, Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said Wednesday.

Potter, 60, (pictured left) has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder last week's slayings of Billy Payne Jr. and his girlfriend, Billie Jean Hayworth. The couple was shot to death in their Mountain City home in the far northeast corner of the state. Their 8-month-old baby was found unharmed in Hayworth's arms.

“It's a senseless thing,” the sheriff said.

 Authorities have been involved other cases where Potter's daughter, Jenelle Potter, believed she had been slighted by someone.

Marvin Potter's friend, Jamie Curd, has also been charged in the killings. Curd, 38, (pictured right) had romantic feelings for Jenelle Potter, 30, the sheriff said.

Potter and Curd were arraigned Wednesday. Potter asked for time to hire an attorney while Curd was assigned a public defender who did not immediately return a phone message.

Assistant District Attorney General Matthew Roark said Curd's initial bond was raised to $1.5 million while Roark agreed to put off a bond hearing for Potter until next week, when he is expected to have an attorney. Potter remains jailed on his initial $200,000 bond.

The victims lived with Billy Payne Sr., who was the last person to see them alive. He told detectives he saw Hayworth get up to feed the baby before he left for work at about 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 31.

The slayings were discovered about five hours later when a former neighbor stopped by to pick up mail the family would save for him.

The younger Payne was found in his bedroom, and Hayworth was found in the baby's room.

Appeal denied in grisly Ferry Co. murder

A decision Tuesday by appellate judges most likely ended all legal recourse for a man convicted of killing his 19-year-old employee in a brutal slaying that will forever haunt a Ferry County man who witnessed it and barely escaped with his own life.

The Division III Court of Appeals denied an argument by Cory J. Monaghan, 38, of Maple Valley, Wash., that he was not guilty by reason of insanity of first-degree murder for killing Jeremy Karavias and first-degree arson for setting fire to his uncle’s Malo, Wash., home in 2008.

“He killed and butchered that kid,” Ron Wessel said of his nephew, Monaghan. Karavias “was just an innocent kid. I think about it every day.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 29, 2008: Slain man identified as Kent 19-year-old

New details in Starbuck murder case

A Deer Park mother of five found strangled to death in her home was positioned in a way to humiliate her and make detectives believe she had been sexually assaulted, according to information released Tuesday.

Clay Duane Starbuck, 47, is accused of murdering his ex-wife, Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42, after luring her from her home with their children, then breaking in and hiding until she returned, detectives wrote in a warrant that was used to search the suspect’s home at 1625 E. 2nd St. Monday night. Investigators seized dozens of items, including cameras, documents, computers and a cell phone.

Starbuck, a former oil worker in Alaska with no criminal history, was arrested Monday morning during a traffic stop in Deer Park. He remains in jail on $1 million bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon on charges of aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. He’s prohibited from contacting his children, who are witnesses in the case. Spokane County sheriff’s officials say the children are staying with a close family friend.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 6: Ex-husband arrested for Deer Park woman's murder

Dec. 14: Search warrants sealed in Deer Park murder case

Ex-husband arrested in Deer Park murder

The ex-husband of a woman found strangled in her Deer Park home has been arrested for murder.

Clay Duane Starbuck was booked into jail Monday for the murder of Chanin Denice Starbuck, 42, who was found dead in her home at 509 N. Reiper St. Dec. 3. Deputies arrested him without incident during a traffic stop this morning in Deer Park.

The Starbucks, who have five children between the ages of 10 and 21, were in the midst of a contentious divorce when Chanin was killed.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 14: Search warrants sealed in Deer Park murder case

Fugitive haunted by son’s murder in jail

A man targeted by Crime Stoppers for failing to register as a sex offender committed the same crime three years ago while haunted by the brutal jailhouse murder of his son.

William R. Rentz, 58, was convicted of third-degree child molestation in Cowlitz County in 1994.

He was living in an abandoned van at a gas station in the winter of 2008-2009 and walked to the police station to register as a sex offender each week. He left for Idaho without notifying authorities when his brother learned he was living in the unheated van, according to court documents.

Rentz never registered in Idaho, which led to his criminal conviction in 2010.

Rentz is the father of Christopher Lee Rentz, a 21-year-old gas theft suspect who was brutally murdered by cellmates Michael Lee West and Brandon West Martin in the Spokane County Jail in 2004.

The county settled a lawsuit over Rentz's death for $180,000, and Martin and West were convicted of murder. West is now accused of brutally assaulting two other inmates at the Airway Heights Corrections Center.

Rentz considered his son to be his best friend and has not recovered from his murder, according to a memorandum his public defender, Kari Reardon, filed before his sentencing in 2010 for failing to register as a sex ofender.

Rentz was in jail, too, when he was son was killed, Reardon wrote. Jailers put him on suicide watch after informing him of the murder.

“Unfortunately for William, part of him died with Chris,” according to a letter from his brother, Terry Rentz that was included with the memo.

Terry Rentz described how he searched for his brother at various convenience stores when he learned of his condition. He said his brother was physically unable to register, and when he was, “he could not face the fact hat he would need to contact the sheriff in the same building in which his son was murdered.”

William Rentz, who was credited for 417 days served in jail at his sentencing in 2010, suffers from mild dementia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic injury caused when he was buried in concrete, according to the memo.

A no-bail warrant for his arrest was issued Jan. 25 for failing to register as a sex offender, a felony. Crime Stoppers last week offered a reward for tips that lead to his arrest.

Anyone with information on his current location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit tips online.

Rape alleged in prostitute’s brutal murder

Spokane police are recommending murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping charges against a sex offender suspected of killing a Spokane woman who was working as a prostitute last August.

Major crimes detectives have submitted the charging request for Derrick Ross Vargas, 24, (right) to the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office, police said today.

Vargas, who has long been a suspect, is accused of raping and murdering Evon M. Moore, 48, whose body was found in an alley near North Ralph Street and East Riverside Avenue Aug. 13. Police said the condition Moore's body showed she was obviously the victim of a “brutal murder.”

Detectives were looking for clues from cars seen on surveillance video in the area when a Washington State Patrol trooper contacted Vargas during a traffic stop Sept. 23.
 
A woman jumped out of his red truck and said Vargas had raped her. Police say the woman was working as a prostitute on East Sprague Avenue when she met Vargas - just like Moore (left). And Vargas' truck matched  a truck seen on the surveillance video near where Moore's body was found.
 
Vargas was released from federal prison on Aug. 2 after serving about four years for having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl when he was 19.
 
Detectives found a pair of shoes with blood on them in Vargas' East Trent Avenue apartment that matched the shoe tread pattern found near Moore's body. They also found a purse believed to belong to Moore, who was a student at Spokane Community College.
 
He's been in jail since Sept. 23 on a rape charge for the alleged incident with the prostitute. He has not yet been formally charged in Moore's death.

Stevens Co. murder suspect fit for trial

The suspected shooter charged with the July 17 killing of a 63-year-old Colville man has been found competent to stand trial.

  Eric L. Booth, 26, is expected to appear in court next Tuesday to schedule a trial, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said this week. But based on preliminary discussions, a trial may not be necessary, Rasmussen said.

Booth is charged with first-degree murder  for the shooting death of Gordon Feist in what detectives believe was a botched robbery. Also charged are 27-year-old Jesse J. Fellman-Shimmin and 25-year-old Collette Marie Pierce.

Booth and his attorney, Paul Wasson, have been working with law enforcement, Rasmussen said.

Past coverage:

Sept. 26: Two more charged in Stevens County homcide

Aug. 2: Murder suspect may claim insanity

July 21: Police think botched theft led to murder near Colville

July 20: Slaying near Colville baffles neighbors

Man guilty in road rage murder re-trial

A jury today convicted a North Idaho man of second-degree murder for fatally running over a woman during a 2006 road rage incident with her husband and two daughters.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, 51, has already served six years in prison for the Jan. 1, 2006, incident but was released last year after the Idaho Supreme Court overturned his convictions because of problems with his first trial.

Judge John Luster today allowed him to stay out of jail until his new sentencing, which is scheduled for March 26.

Read the rest of my story here.

Deputy Prosecutor Luke Malek, who is running for the Idaho state Legislature, congratulated his office in a Facebook post: “8 months after a scathing, dicta-filled opinion, professionalism and justice prevail. Congratulations to Art Verharen and Barry McHugh for courage in the face of populist ridicule.”

Past coverage:

May 27: Idaho Supreme Court overturns Ellington murder conviction