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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Family remembers ‘big-hearted’ man who was killed, buried on own property last year in Stevens County

Jerry Rasmussen, right, stands with his son, Eric Rasmussen, in August outside Jerry Rasmussen’s Valley, Wash., home. Jerry Rasmussen was allegedly shot in the head and buried on the property in September.  (Courtesy of Eric Rasmussen)
Jerry Rasmussen, right, stands with his son, Eric Rasmussen, in August outside Jerry Rasmussen’s Valley, Wash., home. Jerry Rasmussen was allegedly shot in the head and buried on the property in September. (Courtesy of Eric Rasmussen)

The 65-year-old man who was shot in the head last year and found buried on his property months later was “big-hearted,” could fix anything and loved motorcycles, according to his family members.

Jerry Rasmussen’s death shocked his family. They said they were not aware of any issues in his marriage with Brenda Rasmussen, who along with her two sons, Danny Jones and Andrew Jones, and her father, Daniel D. Tavaglione, were charged for their alleged connection to Jerry Rasmussen’s death.

In early December, authorities discovered Jerry Rasmussen’s body wrapped in a blanket and plastic wrap buried under a new shed on the Rasmussen couple’s property, 33427 Darrin Road, outside Valley, Washington, in Stevens County. The medical examiner located what appeared to be a bullet hole and a bullet in Jerry Rasmussen’s head, according to court documents. The gunshot wound caused his death, authorities said.

Tom Rasmussen, Jerry Rasmussen’s brother, said his brother lived in Oregon for a long time before moving to Valley with Brenda Rasmussen around March 2021. He said Jerry Rasmussen worked a variety of construction jobs, including remodeling houses, in northeastern Washington. He could build houses, too.

“There’s nothing he can’t fix,” said Sally Bryant, Jerry Rasmussen’s mother.

Eric Rasmussen, Jerry Rasmussen’s son, said his father was a “jack-of-all-trades.”

“My dad was like my best friend,” Eric Rasmussen said.

He said his father was tough on the outside but had a “big, soft heart on the inside.”

Bryant said she misses her son and the experience has been extremely difficult.

“I don’t wish this on any parent,” she said. “This is a horrible thing to happen.”

According to court documents, Brenda Rasmussen tried reporting her husband missing to the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 27. She told a deputy that Jerry Rasmussen told her he had cabin fever, took $30,000 in cash and left on his motorcycle.

Brenda Rasmussen, who said she and her husband were fighting, told authorities he was missing for a couple weeks, she could not reach him by phone and she was getting worried. She said she did not try calling her husband until three or four days after he was reportedly missing, according to documents.

Eric Rasmussen said he visited his father and Brenda Rasmussen in August, and everything seemed fine between the two. He returned to his California home and communicated with his father by phone until Labor Day weekend, which started a period lasting a couple of weeks during which he could not reach his father, he said.

Eric Rasmussen said Brenda Rasmussen told him his father was busy the times he did call the house during that period, documents said.

Worried about his father’s welfare, Eric Rasmussen said he hopped on a plane and then drove to the couple’s Valley home and filed a missing person report.

He said he stayed a short period at the home with Brenda Rasmussen, Danny Jones and Andrew Jones. Believing the three may have had something to do with his father’s disappearance, Eric Rasmussen said he worried for his life at times while staying there.

“I had to do what I had to do,” he said. “I was trying to find my dad and I was there. I questioned the one boy (Andrew Jones) so hard he passed out in the driveway.”

Tom Rasmussen said his brother met Brenda Rasmussen online and they knew each other for about three years. He said he never heard about them fighting until she said they were arguing about a fence prior to his death.

Tom Rasmussen said he thought his brother and his wife really liked each other.

“They did everything together,” he said.

Bryant also said the couple got along fine.

“I’m totally shocked. … She just fooled everybody,” she said.

Brenda Rasmussen and the Jones brothers said in court documents that Tavaglione flew into town in early September to pay Jerry Rasmussen back a loan.

But a detective said in court documents that it appeared Tavaglione either flew up from California, where he lives, to assist in the homicide or was called to assist with concealing the body, crime scene and motorcycle.

It’s a “feasible possibility” that Andrew Jones and Brenda Rasmussen transported the motorcycle she claimed Jerry Rasmussen drove away to an unknown location to be concealed, sold or destroyed, a detective said in the documents.

Tom Rasmussen said his brother would not let Tavaglione come over to his house if he owed him money. He said he believes the family killed his brother for his money and motorcycle.

“I think it was planned out and for the money,” he said.

Tom Rasmussen said his brother loved working on and riding motorcycles. Jerry Rasmussen had two of his own.

Jeremy Rasmussen, Jerry Rasmussen’s other son, said one of the best memories he has with his father is the two of them riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles for Jerry Rasmussen’s birthday about seven years ago in Maui.

“I’ve never seen my dad more happier (than) when he was riding his bike,” Jeremy Rasmussen said. “He owned the road, you know, and I loved that.”

He said he will always cherish motorcycle rides with his dad.

“It was amazing,” Jeremy Rasmussen said. “And I still ride to this day, too, so I’ll always ride in memory of my father. That’s for sure.”

As for the legal proceedings, Jeremy Rasmussen said he hopes his family members get answers to help them move forward.

“I’m deeply afraid that we don’t,” he said.

Jeremy Rasmussen said the four defendants allegedly responsible for the death are “cowards.”

Brenda Rasmussen, 55, Danny Jones, 34, and Andrew Jones, 32, were arrested in February in Fort Mohave, Arizona, on suspicion of first-degree rendering criminal assistance relating to Jerry Rasmussen’s death. Second-degree murder and unlawful disposal of human remains charges have been added to the cases of Brenda Rasmussen and Danny Jones. Andrew Jones also now faces one count of unlawful disposal of human remains in addition to the first charge.

All three remained in Stevens County Jail as of Friday.

Tavaglione, 77, was also charged with suspicion of rendering criminal assistance. He was arrested in February but then released the next day by posting bond, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in California.

Stevens County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Mike Gilmore said Tavaglione has “significant medical issues,” and that his next court appearance is scheduled in May in California.

Brenda Rasmussen and her sons all have hearings scheduled throughout the spring.

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