UPDATE: Men Arrested For Murdering Cassel Plead Not Guilty - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: 2 Men Arrested For Murder Of Heather Cassel Plead Not Guilty

Posted: Updated:
45-year-old Gary L. Stoddard 45-year-old Gary L. Stoddard
Victim: 20-Year-Old Heather Cassel from Facebook Victim: 20-Year-Old Heather Cassel from Facebook

UPDATE:

SPOKANE, Wash. - The two men arrested after the violent murder of a woman near Spokane Falls Community College were arraigned Tuesday at the Spokane County Courthouse.

Both 23-year-old Jonathan Ritchey and 45-year-old Gary Stoddard pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and murder charges. Their trials will begin May 20th.

Detectives think Stoddard shot and killed 20-year-old Heather Cassel on March 11th after he and Ritchey kidnapped her. They believe Cassel was trying to escape when she was killed.

On Monday the Spokesman Review reported that Spokane Police detectives have filed multiple new search warrants to try to recreate through phone records where the two murder suspects were located when Heather Cassel was fatally shot on March 11.

Detectives plan to search the victim Heather Cassel's car to obtain DNA samples and to check the phone records of Gary L. Stoddard and his nephew, Jonathan J.L. Ritchey, who both face murder charges for the killing of Cassel.

According to court records, Stoddard admitted shooting Cassel. Stoddard told police he shot Cassel because he was afraid to go to jail. The woman was quarreling the night of the shooting with Ritchey, who is the father of their child.

She was found dead at the College Terrace Apartments on March 11th.

Stoddard remains in custody under a $1 million bond as well as Ritchey who also remains in custody on a $100,000 bond.

Ritchey initially claimed he did not know anything about Cassel's death. He later implicated his uncle, Stoddard, who previously was convicted of assault in a case where a woman claimed he had raped her and kept her captive at knifepoint.

UPDATE: Police have learned that Heather A. Cassel was shot to death while trying to flee after being kidnapped. Cassel broke free from her abductor, Gary L. Stoddard, and ran towards the College Terrace Apartments, screaming for help. She was shot once through her stomach and a second bullet hit right below her eye and was fired from close range.

Stoddard told police that he shot Cassel because he was afraid to go to jail. Stoddard is currently being held on a 1 million dollar bond.

UPDATE: The Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed the identity of the female who on March 11, 2013 at the College Terrace Apartments near SFCC. She's identified as 20-year-old Heather A. Cassel. CAUSE: Gunshot wounds.

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police held a press conference Tuesday afternoon regarding the homicide investigation that began on Monday morning. In a period of 25 hours, Spokane Police served three search warrants and made two arrests in a case where they were unsure of the identity of the victim at the beginning.

Police arrested 45-year-old Gary Stoddard and 22-year-old Jonathan Ritchey in connection with the homicide early Tuesday morning. Detectives learned the identity of the female victim yesterday after a request for assistance in identifying her was made through the media. Once identified, detectives retraced her activity in the hours leading up to her death.

Spokane Police said when the victim was found she actually had a pair of handcuffs on her. One of her hands had the handcuffs connected, the other hand was free. The identity of the victim has still not been released, but when it is confirmed by the Medical Examiner, it will be made public. 

Ritchey faces a charge of first degree murder domestic violence and police arrested Stoddard for 1st degree murder and 1st degree kidnapping. Ritchey does not have much of a criminal history, but Stoddard is well known to police.

According to Spokane Police, Stoddard has convictions in Eastern Washington, Pend Orielle County and also on a federal level. The Washington Department of Corrections confirms that Stoddard was in their system from 1997-2000 for convictions related to domestic violence and attempted burglary.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed Stoddard's conviction for wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit both of those. Stoddard was originally sentenced for those crimes on July 28th of 2000.According to the mother of Jonathan Ritchey the homicide victim is the mother of Jonathan's 18- month-old baby.

According to the mother of Jonathan Ritchey, Gary Stoddard is her brother (Jonathan's uncle). Kay Ritchey said that her son is innocent and was devastated to learn of his girlfriend's passing. She said the victim's mother believes Jonathan is innocent as well.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 2:20: Judge Triplet says he will be taking a 15 minute recess to review this case one more time.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 2:19: According to the state Ritchey confessed detectives will find his DNA on the gun and handcuffs.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 2:19: The state believes the facts are very clear to find probable cause for murder charge against Ritchey.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 2:17: Man defending Ritchey says police "are jumping the gun" on his (Ritchey's) arrest.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 2:16: Jonathan Ritchey just called by judge. One of two suspects arrested for yesterday's homicide.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:41: The second guy, Jonathan Ritchey, does not have a record. This is one of his first run ins with the law by my finding

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:40: Stoddard was convicted in 2000 for wire fraud and mail fraud as well as conspiracy to commit those offenses. Got out in '03.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:40: Stoddard was in prison in wash. from 97-2000 on D.V and attempted burglary. After getting out he was sentenced again. (Cont.)

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:38: Gary Stoddard, 1 of 2 arrested for homicide, goes by a few different names. He has a crime. history that goes back many years.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:16: Victim was wearing flip flops, sweatshirt and yoga style pants.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:16: Officials with @SpokanePD say they "put everything they had at this" and were able to make two arrests in 25 hours.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:13: Victim was found with a pair of handcuffs. One was connected to one hand. Her other hand was free.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:11: Three search warrant served this morning. Two related to suspects houses. One at a separate location.

TWEET FROM KHQ'S ALEX ROZIER 1:08: Spokane police presser regarding yesterday's homicide now underway. Two arrests,three search warrants.

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE SPOKANE POLICE DEPT: Spokane Police Major Crimes detectives arrested 23-year-old Jonathan J.L. Ritchey for 1st Degree Murder Domestic Violence and 45-year-old Gary L. Stoddard for 1st Degree Murder and 1st Degree Kidnapping for the homicide of a female that occurred Monday at 4100 W. Fort George Wright Dr. in west Spokane. 

Detectives learned the identity of the female victim yesterday evening after a request for assistance in identifying her was made through the local news media. Once identified, detectives retraced her activity in the hours leading up to her death and ultimately made arrests early this morning. 

Three search warrants were executed at 5 am this morning for evidence related to this crime. The victim's vehicle was located and seized for evidence. A firearm of the same caliber that was used in the murder was located during one of the search warrants.

The Medical Examiner's Office will be the agency that releases the identity of the victim.

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