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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

In brief: Tracks in snow lead to suspect

The Spokesman-Review

A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy walked more than a mile in freezing rain Wednesday to apprehend a burglary suspect who left a trail of footprints in the snow.

Deputy Dave Morris, the Deer Park High School resource officer, tracked the suspect from a home in the 200 block of West Wild Rose Road to a home on East Ziegler Lane.

Other deputies, including one with a police dog, joined Morris at the second home, and the dog found 34-year-old Jason Russell Horstman, of 1713 W. Antler Road, hiding in an enclosed snowmobile trailer, according to Sgt. Dave Reagan.

The incident began about 8:20 a.m. when Horstman allegedly sprayed a man with a fire extinguisher and fled on foot. The victim had gone to check on his stepfather’s home on Wild Rose Road when he found Horstman hiding behind a freezer in the garage, Reagan said.

Deputies believe Horstman had stolen the homeowner’s Ford Ranger pickup earlier and had returned with it to steal more property. Reagan said the pickup was found at the home, still warm from use, with Horstman’s backpack inside it.

The owner’s stepson discovered that a Honda Trail 90 motorcycle was missing, according to Reagan.

Horstman was booked on suspicion of second-degree burglary and second-degree car theft as well as an existing warrant charging him with second-degree possession of stolen property.

Shootings called murder-suicide

Court documents filed Wednesday indicate sheriff’s detectives believe James P. Elliott killed himself Tuesday after fatally shooting his wife, Patricia, in their single-wide mobile home near Deer Park.

A suicide note in a spiral notebook, believed to have been written by James Elliott, was found on the kitchen table. Detective Tim Hines said in a search warrant affidavit that the note “talks about not being able to handle the stress anymore, not being able to mourn anymore, and requesting that the writer’s sister in Canada be called.”

Deputies went to the home at 1024 W. Westmoreland Road on Tuesday morning after a 911 hang-up call was traced to that address. A 911 operator called back several times and eventually talked to a man who said, “Please get out here; there has been a shooting,” according to Hines.

Officers found a dead man, believed to be James Elliott, seated in the living room with his right hand loosely clutching a revolver. A bullet appeared to have struck the wall behind his bleeding head.

A woman believed to be Patricia Elliott was found lying on a bed with blankets pulled up to her neck. She had been shot in her left side and right elbow, Hines stated. One bullet was found under the body, and another was found in a pillow.

Hines said there was no sign of a struggle, and the home was “neat and clean.”

Detectives seized a Smith & Wesson .357-caliber Magnum revolver among other evidence.

A sign outside the home indicated Patricia Elliott operated a pet grooming service.


Driver suspected of using drugs

A Colville man remained in serious condition at a Spokane hospital Wednesday after a 12:45 p.m. crash in which he was suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.

According to the Washington State Patrol, 20-year-old Chad Lee Warren was southbound on U.S. Highway 395 when he attempted to pass another car and collided head-on with a two-trailer semitruck about four miles north of Chewelah.

The truck driver, 64-year-old Spokane Valley resident David Everett Hansen, wasn’t injured although one of his trailers was destroyed. Warren’s 1998 Honda Civic also was totaled, but his passenger suffered only minor injuries.

Troopers said the passenger, 23-year-old Erik Alan Trusler, of Colville, was treated and released at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chewelah before being booked into the Stevens County Jail on suspicion of drug possession.

Hearing on condos to be held today

A request for a conditional shoreline use permit to build a seven-story condominium complex between the Flour Mill and Spokane Federal Credit Union on the north bank of the Spokane River goes before the city hearing examiner today.

The hearing will be at 10:30 a.m. in the council briefing center in the lower level of City Hall.

Plans call for a seven-story building with a separate penthouse tower and a brick-and-glass façade. It would have 30 units with a combination of river, city and arena views.

The owner of the project is GVL Investors, of Tiburon, Calif. – also the owner of the Flour Mill.


Fort Lewis private out of custody

Army Pvt. Suzanne Swift, who said she had been sexually harassed by officers and refused to return to duty in Iraq, was freed on Wednesday.

Swift, 22, had been confined at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma, since December after pleading guilty to being absent without leave as part of a plea agreement with the Army, which included a demotion.

Swift served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. Her unit was sent back to Iraq in January 2006, but she refused to go and stayed away for about five months.

Swift said that her supervisor in Iraq coerced her into a sexual relationship, and that other superiors had harassed or abused her.

The Army substantiated her allegations against one soldier at Fort Lewis. That soldier later left the Army after a reprimand from his battalion commander and reassignment to another unit.

Swift was arrested in June. Her plea, which came during a summary court-martial, helped her avoid a federal conviction.

As part of the plea agreement, she will remain in the Army for five years and could eventually earn an honorable discharge.