SKYKOMISH, Wash. -- King County Sheriff's detectives have arrested a suspect in the murder of a man whose body was found on December 23rd on the side of a National Forest Service Road two miles past the town of Skykomish.
32-year-old Jeremy Tod Staeheli is being held in the Tehama County jail in California without bail. Detectives drove to Red Bluff, Calif. on Sunday and arrested him as he left a motel after learning he had fled there immediately following the shooting. King County Prosecutors have charged Staeheli with Murder in the 2nd Degree and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the 2nd Degree.
“Despite limited resources in our Major Crimes Unit, our detectives worked tirelessly to identify and arrest a suspect in this case in just six days,” said Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht. “I am proud of their work and grateful for their incredible efforts to seek justice for Mr. Stewart’s family.”
According to court documents, detectives say they identified Staeheli as a suspect in the murder of 34-year-old Brandt Stewart after interviewing witnesses and viewing surveillance video of the two of them together in a newer red Ford Mustang at an AM/PM mini-mart in Snohomish County. Officers say they arrested Staeheli in Red Bluff with the same red Mustang.
According to court documents, detectives say Staeheli admitted to driving Stewart off of a main road and onto a logging road, before shooting him in the head and leaving him. Detectives say he still had the same 9 mm handgun with him when he was taken into custody.
Staeheli told investigators that he knew Stewart from going to school together and that he occasionally gave him food and smoked meth together. He said he picked Stewart up at a shed behind the Church of the Nazarene in Snohomish to drive around.
When they stopped on the forest road to relieve themselves, Staeheli claimed he saw Stewart on the other side of the car holding a knife. He said he shot Stewart in the forehead out of self-defense.
However, investigators say Stewart was found fully clothed, with his hands in his pockets and a pocket knife inside his pants pocket. A single spent 9 mm shell casing was located nearby along with multiple tire tracks and shoe prints in the snow and gravel.
Stewart's mother told investigators that her son had struggled with drug addiction for most of his adult life. Detectives say they found a small vial of suspected methamphetamine in her son's jacket pocket.
Prosecutors have requested a $2,000,000 bail once Staeheli is extradited back to King County to face trial.
He has a current pending cases in Snohomish County for Assault 3rd Degree and Assault 4th Degree Domestic Violence. Court records show he ineligible to possess a firearm because of an active protection order filed against him on February 26, 2019.
Staeheli has five misdemeanor convictions for Malicious Mischief 3rd Degree, Disorderly Conduct, Assault 4th Degree, DWLS 3rd Degree and Theft 3rd Degree.