Two suspects arrested in deadly shooting near SFCC

Motive for shooting of Heather Cassel remains unclear

Author: Ian Cull, KXLY4 Multimedia Journalist, ianc@kxly.com
Published On: Mar 12 2013 08:24:49 AM PDT   Updated On: Mar 12 2013 07:03:29 PM PDT
Gary Stoddard mugshot from Dept. of Corrections
SPOKANE, Wash. -

Spokane police have arrested two suspects in connection with Monday morning's deadly shooting at an apartment complex near Spokane Falls Community College.

The shooting happened at the College Terrace Apartments around 4:30 a.m.

A woman, identified by the medical examiner Tuesday afternoon as Heather Cassel, 20, was found dead between a garage and an apartment building.

According to police, Jonathan J.L. Ritchey, 23, was arrested for first-degree murder and his uncle, Gary L. Stoddard, 45, was arrested for first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping.

This after Cassel -- Ritchey's girlfriend and the mother of his 18-month-old child -- was found shot to death near the SFCC campus.

Police said Cassel's body was identified late Monday night. Once it was identified, detectives retraced her activity leading up to the shooting on Monday morning. It took just 25 hours for police to find and arrest the suspects in Cassel's killing.

"Yesterday at 4:30 we started off with a victim we didn't know for nearly 12 hours. Once we learned of her identification we located two suspects within the next 12 hours and executed some search warrants and made the arrests," Spokane Police Commander Brad Arleth said.

Three search warrants were executed at 5 a.m. Tuesday for evidence related to the murder. The woman's vehicle was also found and seized for evidence. A gun believed to have been used in the shooting was found during one of the search warrants.

Arleth said most of the department spend the day and night trying to find the two men and Tuesday their family argued for Ritchey to be released.

According to court documents, Stoddard confessed to shooting Cassel. He said she was bound in handcuffs while in the car near the College Terrace Apartments when she tried to escape. Stoddard told officers he shot her and then left the scene.

While members of Ritchey's family spoke on his behalf, no one in court stood up on Stoddard's behalf. Ritchey's bond was set at $100,000 while Stoddard's was set at $1 million.

If released neither men are allowed to talk with each other; Stoddard is not allowed to talk with the family.

The motive behind Cassel's kidnapping and killing remains unclear.