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Secretly recorded phone call led deputies to suspected killer of Robert Tester

John A. Radavich, 22, appears in court, Friday.
John A. Radavich, 22, appears in court, Friday.

A recorded phone message detailing a grisly murder led police to the man accused of killing the nephew of a U.S. Senator.

Robert Tester, 35, was found dead on Sept. 6 in a “large pool of blood” at a house near Spangle.

John A. Radavich, 22, was arrested Thursday in connection with the killing.

Court documents say that in late December, a lifelong friend of Radavich’s who lives in Texas got in touch with detectives. Radavich had called his friend on Christmas Day and confessed to killing Tester with his “knight’s sword,” court documents say. The friend started recording the conversation.

In the 21-minute call Radavich said Robert Tester, nephew of Montana Sen. Jon Tester, had been abusing and raping his 17-year-old girlfriend. The teenager was living with Robert Tester at the time. Additionally, Radavich claimed that Tester allowed his meth dealer to rape the 17-year-old girl, who previously had dated Radavich.

According to police Tester had a roommate involved in using and selling methamphetamine.

In the recorded phone call, Radavich said he disposed of the sword and his bloody clothing on Snoqualmie Pass.

After listening to the call detectives spoke to the 17-year-old girl again and played the recorded message for her. She told them Radavich told her he had killed Tester, but at the time she thought he was “just repeating what he heard on the news and was trying to win her affections back.”

Previously the teenager told detectives that Tester had assaulted her and she went to the hospital for a concussion. After leaving the hospital she told her ex-boyfriend Radavich what had happened. Radavich left shortly after that, saying he had to “take care of something,” records say.

Tester was killed early the following morning. He was was found dead at 16109 S. Keeney Road. An ax-like maul lay nearby, stained with blood. And deputies found “blood on the walls and floor throughout the residence,” court documents say.

Tester’s 8-year-old daughter told Spokane County sheriff’s deputies she woke up to her father screaming. He was upstairs and was being stabbed by a man with a knife and sword, according to court documents. The two men struggled and Tester ended up downstairs.

Before leaving, the man with the knife told the 8-year-old, “Me and your father made some decisions, and we agree.”

The girl tried to call 911, her sister and her grandmother around 2 a.m.; however, she was unable to get through to anyone. According to court documents she went back downstairs to try to sleep but was unable to. At 7 a.m. she called her grandmother, who subsequently called police, according to court documents.

Police arrested Radavich on Thursday at his apartment building without incident. According to court documents, a detective saw a Japanese-style sword propped against the wall during the arrest.

Radavich was charged with rape in May 2015 in Kootenai County; however, that charge was dismissed due to a lack of probable cause.

He is being held on a $1 million bond at the Spokane County jail.

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