STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. — Officers arrested four people Friday in connection to an on-going kidnapping and murder investigation. Police said Saturday the fourth suspect taken into custody in Pasco, Benito Baldovinos-Mendoza, 40, was booked into the Spokane County Jail Friday night.
Investigators said a body was found Friday in connection to the kidnapping of a woman in Northwest Spokane. The body was located early Friday morning in a rural area near Long Lake.
Spokane Police detectives received information that led them to the discovery off Highway 291 near Tumtum.
Neighbors said they have feared for years that the woods would be the perfect spot to conceal a crime.
“I'm getting goosebumps right now just thinking about that,” said Linda Davidson. “My mom and I cruise this road to go to the store up here and we'd always wonder how many bodies are out here.”
Detectives believed the body was dumped there a week earlier. Court documents stated that the victim was killed because he stole money and drugs.
Domingo Valdovinos, 26, Dillon Casteel, 23, Joseph Gillespie, 33, and Benito Baldovinos-Mendoza, 40, were booked Friday. Valdovinos faces murder and kidnapping charges. Casteel, Gillespie, and Baldovinos-Mendoza face kidnapping charges according to authorities.
Court documents filed late Friday afternoon revealed the suspects' alleged involvement.
Authorities interviewed the murder victim’s girlfriend who explained what happened. She claimed her boyfriend, Casteel, and Valdovinos had been trafficking drugs. Court documents stated that the three men were at odds over money. She claimed that Casteel convinced Valdovinos that her boyfriend had stolen money and drugs.
On February 28, the murder victim and his girlfriend went to Gillespie’s home near Maple and Knox. Both Valdovinos and the murder victim were armed according to the girlfriend’s interview with police. She claimed Valdovinos and the victim went into a bedroom. She then heard three gunshots and saw Valdovinos, her boyfriend, and a third man get into a physical fight. She heard a fourth gunshot. Gillespie then hit her boyfriend with a metal baseball bat according to court records.
The girlfriend told police that two women forced her into a bedroom when she tried to intervene.
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Records stated that Valdovinos and another man restrained her using rope and duct tape.
She claimed that she hobbled into the living room about 30 minutes later. The two other women were cleaning blood from the floor and walls according to her interview.
The girlfriend claimed that Valdovinos, Casteel, and the third man threatened to kill her and her family if she reported what she saw. She said the suspects made her list her family members’ addresses. The woman told police she had two choices: to be killed or go with Casteel.
She stated that Casteel released her 72 hours later near Bridgeport and Addison. She told police that she had not heard from her boyfriend since Feb. 28.
Records showed that a confidential informant alerted authorities on March 3 to the murder. The confidential informant said they had been in the victim’s house on Feb. 28.
Police were already looking into the victim because of claims that he was dealing large amounts of drugs.
On March 4, the victim’s vehicle was found in the Huckleberry’s parking lot near 10th and Monroe. Security video showed that the vehicle was parked at the store on March 1. Police then had the vehicle impounded according to court records.
On March 6, one person was taken into custody at the home near Maple and Knox. Detectives believed it was the home where the girlfriend and the murder victim had been on Feb. 28.
*Note: KREM 2 News has withheld some names until SPD identifies all of the suspects.