SPOKANE — A 22-year-old man sought for investigation in the deaths of a woman and her two sons remained on the loose Sunday, and police said they believed he was armed with several stolen weapons and a bullet-resistant vest.
After a day of searching, police failed to turn up Dustin W. Gilman, who was believed to be driving a silver 2007 Nissan Pathfinder. There was no sign of the vehicle either.
Authorities are checking tips from the public, said Spokane police officer Jennifer DeRuwe.
“All the places we thought he was, he wasn’t,” DeRuwe said Sunday. “Every law enforcement officer in the area knows to be on the lookout for him.”
The slain woman was identified as Tracy Ann Ader, 32.
Police were looking to confirm Gilman’s relationship to the victims, but The Spokesman-Review reported Sunday that Gilman had been living with Ader and her husband, Nick Ader, and watching Ader’s 8- and 10-year-old sons for several months.
Gilman, who had previously been convicted of trafficking in stolen property and car theft, is the younger brother of one of Nick Ader’s friends. The Aders took him in because he was in need, relatives said.
On Friday, Tracy Ader returned home to check on the boys after visiting her husband at a hospital, where he was being treated for pancreatitis. After several hours, Nick Ader called a friend to check on his wife because he hadn’t heard from her.
Police found the bodies. Tracy Ader’s Pathfinder was gone.
Detectives said Sunday they believed Gilman may have several stolen weapons, including multiple handguns, hunting rifles and an assault rifle.
Gilman had attended Ader family gatherings, and he celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas at the home of Ader’s stepfather, Steve Ponsness, last year.
Ponsness told the newspaper that Gilman seemed great with the boys. On Saturday, Ponsness kept a gun at his side.
If Gilman showed up there, “I’d put a bullet in his head quicker than you can blink,” he said.
Gilman’s father, Larry Gilman, told the newspaper he believes his son likely committed suicide.
“I’m very distraught right now,” he said. “My son is probably dead, along with the three people that he killed, supposedly.”
A memorial for Ader and the boys began forming Saturday near the home. A classmate of the 10-year-old said the fifth-grader was an excellent student.
The Aders married a couple of years ago, family said. Tracy Ader was born in Spokane and enjoyed skiing, camping, church and spending time with family. She had worked for about 10 years at Pitney Bowes, an office supply company.
She had been upset lately about the murder of coworker Kimberly Rae Schmidt, 34, a leasing manager at Pitney Bowes, who was found shot to death in her north Spokane home on New Year’s Day. No one has been arrested in that case, but sheriff’s detectives say they have a person of interest.
“Tracy was having a hard time dealing with that because (Schmidt) was a direct co-worker of hers,” Ponsness said.
Tracy Ader’s sister visited the family Thursday night with her young son. Nothing seemed amiss, and Gilman was there, playing with the children as usual.
“The kids loved him,” Justine Ponsness said. “This just blows me away, because I would never have ever imagined him doing this.”
Ponsness and Ader’s mother said they have no idea what could have triggered the slayings.