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Man gets 6 months for assisting suicide

A Spokane man was sentenced today to six months in jail for his role in the suicide of a longtime friend who jumped off the Sunset Bridge.

Melvin Alephus Gillespie, 41, wept as he apologized to the family of William P. Pickard, (pictured) who died June 30 after jumping from the bridge above High Bridge Park. Gillespie helped bind Pickard with a cord to make the death look like a homicide.

“I feel like I failed Billy, I failed God, and I failed his family,” Gillespie said today. “I’m just ashamed more than anything.”

Read the rest of my story here.

 Past coverage:

Feb. 1: Man accused of assisting in Sunset Bridge suicide

Aug. 11: Man was bound before slaying

Aug. 7: Victim's family, friends hold vigil below bridge

July 1: Police find dead man’s car, hope for clues

Police: Man helped friend commit suicide

An acquaintance of a Spokane man who police believe took his own life last summer is now accused of assisting in the suicide.

Family members of William P. Pickard, 38, say Melvin Alephus Gillespie, 40, lied to police for months after Pickard’s death, which detectives believe was staged with rope to look like a homicide.

Pickard’s body was found under the Sunset Bridge on June 30. His car was found four miles away the next day.

Gillespie was arrested Monday on charges of obstructing a public officer and promoting a suicide attempt and is being held at the Spokane County Jail.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 25: Man's death in June believed to be suicide

Aug. 11: Man was bound before slaying

Aug. 7: Victim's family, friends hold vigil below bridge

July 1: Police find dead man’s car, hope for clues

Suicide suspected in June bridge death

Police now believe a Spokane man found dead and bound with a rope under the Sunset Bridge last June committed suicide.

Detectives found a suicide note written by William P. Pickard, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

The nylon rope used to tie Pickard’s hands and neck was apparently loose enough to have been self-applied, police told family members. Handwriting analysis confirmed Pickard wrote the note.

“With all the craziness of it, it really kind of comes down to whether or not you believe that, and personally, I do,” said Daniel Pickard, Pickard’s brother. “I’m 100 percent behind the work the police did on this.”

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 11: Man was bound before slaying

Aug. 7: Victim's family, friends hold vigil below bridge

July 1: Police find dead man’s car, hope for clues

Pic shows rope used to bind murder victim

A Spokane man was bound with a rope before being thrown to his death off the Sunset Bridge in June. 

Police on Monday released a photo of that rope, which was used to bind William P. “Bill” Pickard’s hands and neck, to bring attention to a murder that’s provided few clues.

 “We’re hoping this may generate a lead or two,” said Lt. Dave McGovern. “We believe there’s more than one person involved in this crime.”

Pickard died after being thrown from the Sunset Bridge early June 30 in what detectives suspect may have been a drug-related murder.

Pickard’s hands and neck were bound with a nylon rope that McGovern described as “a flat rope that’s black and white in design…It’s kind of like a shoelace but it’s bigger.”

The rope is about three-quarters of an inch in diameter.

“We think it’s unique enough that there’s not too many of these out there,” McGovern said.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 7: Victim’s family, friends hold vigil below bridge

July 26: 2 recent Spokane homicides, few clues

July 1: Police hope car holds clues in man’s death

Vigil set for bridge murder victim’s birthday

A candlelight vigil will be held Friday for the victim of an unsolved homicide under the Sunset Bridge near High Bridge Park. 

Friends and family of William P. “Bill” Pickard scheduled the vigil to coincide with what would have been his 39th birthday. 

Pickard’s brother, Daniel Pickard, of Chico, Calif., helped create a memorial fund to help Pickard’s teenage stepson and daughters.

Send donations to the Golden One Credit Union, 239 W. 2nd St., Chico, CA 95928. Include account number 1167448. The vigil is scheduled from 7:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Spokane police still are looking for clues in Pickard murder. They believe Pickard, who was studying to be a drug counselor, was alive when his killer, or killers, threw him from the bridge, said Lt. Dave McGovern.

Pickard told his family he was going to a bar June 29, the night before his body was found, but staff said he never showed up. His car was found in the 1500 block of West Glass Avenue the next day.

McGovern said detectives recovered a fingerprint, but it belonged to a family acquaintance who was quickly ruled out as a suspect.

Pickard’s close friend, Bobby Caruso, said Pickard had a methadone prescription that he refilled each week, but that his supply was missing after his murder. McGovern said investigators are considering all aspects of the case.

Anyone with information on his murder should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

2 recent Spokane homicides, few clues

Police continue to hunt for clues in the recent murders of two Spokane men - one a gang member and the other an aspiring drug counselor with a methadone prescription.

 Longtime friend Bobby Caruso said William P. “Bill” Pickard (left), who was found dead under the Sunset Bridge June 30, had a methadone prescription that he refilled each week. He’d had the prescription for three or four years “to help wean him off other drugs,” Caruso said.

Caruso said Pickard’s methadone supply was missing after his body was found and wonder if drug addicts knew of his supply.

“Word travels fast in those dark underworld circles,” Caruso said. 

Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern said detectives are looking at all aspects of the case as they continue to piece together Pickard’s final hours.

Detectives believe Pickard was alive when his killer, or killers, threw him from the bridge, McGovern said.

Pickard, 38, told his family he was going to a bar the night before his body was found, but staff said he never showed up. His car was found in the 1500 block of West Glass Avenue the next day. Police said they recovered a fingerprint, but it belonged to a family acquaintance who was quickly ruled out as a suspect. 

Another murder still under investigation is the shooting death of Nathan D. “Trigger” Gilstrap, 29, (right) on July 13.

A woman who lives at 2105 W. Boone woke to gunfire, but she didn’t see vehicles or anyone other than Gilstrap when she looked out her window.

Police have no witnesses to Gilstrap’s murder, and no description of a possible getaway vehicle.

Gilstrap is described by police as a gang member with several enemies.

Anyone with information on the murders of Pickard or Gilstrap is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Homicide victim’s funeral set for Friday

A memorial service for the man found dead under the Sunset Bridge is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.

Family and friends of William P. “Bill” Pickard, 38, will gather at the Family Faith Community Church, 708 W. Nora, for a service, then at Linwood Park, 7720 N Country Homes Blvd., for a potluck.

Spokane police detectives continue to search for clues on Pickard’s death, which was ruled a homicide after his body was found under the bridge last Wednesday. His car was found in the 1500 block of West Glass Avenue the next day. He told his family he was going to a bar Tuesday, but staff said he never showed up.

Pickard was a few classes away from earning his chemical dependency counselor degree at Spokane Falls Community College.

He graduated from North Central High School in 1990, where he helped lead the wrestling team to a league championship.

Anyone with information on his death should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Past coverage: July 1: Police find dead man’s car, hope for clues

Car could hold clues in Spokane man’s death

The night before his body was found underneath a Spokane bridge, William P. Pickard told his family he was going to one of his favorite bars.

But staff at the Swinging Doors in north Spokane say they never saw the longtime customer that night.

Pickard, 38, was found dead about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday under the Sunset Boulevard bridge on the west bank of Latah Creek in High Bridge Park.

An autopsy didn’t immediately reveal his cause of death.

Homicide detectives know Pickard fell from the bridge, but they don’t know if he was dead or alive when it happened, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe. They hope his 2007 white Mercury Mariner will provide clues.

Read the rest of my story here.