WATERVILLE — A former Wenatchee man already charged in the deaths of three other people was charged Wednesday with the 1997 murder of an East Wenatchee teen.
Jason Eugene Bush, 34, was charged with first-degree murder in Douglas County Superior Court in the shooting death of Jonathan Bumstead. Bail was set at $1 million for Bush, who is in Pima County Jail in Arizona, charged in a double-murder home invasion in that state in May.
Authorities in Arizona say Bush admitted to the May 30 killings of a 29-year-old-man and his 9-year-old daughter. Bush and Shawna Forde, 41, of Everett have been charged in the slayings.
Bush was charged last month in Chelan County Superior Court with second-degree murder in the 1997 fatal stabbing of Hector Lopez Partida in Wenatchee.
Bush denied killing Bumstead in an interview with a Wenatchee police officer.
Bush will likely be prosecuted first in Arizona, said Kellie Johnson, Pima County deputy attorney and one of two prosecutors assigned to Bush’s case. She said after his case is resolved there, Chelan and Douglas counties can ask to have him transferred to Washington to be tried for murder. But if he is found guilty of the Arizona murders, he would serve his prison time there before serving any time in Washington, she said.
Johnson said Pima County has not yet settled on whether to pursue the death penalty and has until the end of August to decide.
A nine-page affidavit of probable caused filed Wednesday in the Douglas County court lays out what led police to believe Bush, who lived in Wenatchee for less than eight months, killed Bumstead.
According to the document:
Bumstead’s body was found in the Douglas Creek area of the Palisades on Sept. 21, 1997. Bumstead had been shot twice: once in the back and once in the head. He was found on a rocky abandoned railroad bed near the entrance to a tunnel.
Spent cartridges from a .22-caliber rifle, a .270-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun were found near his body. Before his death, Bumstead’s parents had reported the theft of a 12-gauge shotgun and a .270 rifle from their home.
At the time of his death, Bumstead was a self-proclaimed white supremacist, according to the document. He was wearing black boots, black pants, suspenders and a camouflage shirt when he was killed.
In the 11 years since his death, about 70 people have been interviewed, some of them multiple times. None admitted having any direct knowledge of the murder.
Information about Bumstead’s death was discovered during the recent investigation by Wenatchee police into Lopez’s death.
Like the Bumstead murder in Douglas County, Wenatchee police had no suspects in the Lopez murder until last January, when the state crime lab completed a DNA analysis of a bloody shirt found near Lopez’s body. The analysis found blood that belonged to Lopez and Bush.
Local police were notified by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office in June that Bush had been arrested for the May 30 home invasion killing of a man and his 9-year-old daughter.
Wenatchee police Sgt. John Kruse interviewed Bush in jail in Arizona on June 14 about the Lopez murder. Bush admitted to being friends with Bumstead and that he used to go camping with him.
Kruse then interviewed a confidential informant, who said Bush had told him he killed three people in the Wenatchee area. The informant told Kruse that Bush specifically told him that he, Bush and another man killed a man because he was a “Mexican” in Wenatchee, and killed Bumstead.
Kruse interviewed Bush a second time on June 16 and asked him whether he killed Bumstead. Bush denied it.
Kruse contacted Douglas County sheriff’s Det. Steve Groseclose with the new information, and the two officers interviewed the informant together. The informant said Bush and a third person came to visit him at his home in Idaho in summer 1997, Bush showed the informant a Wenatchee World article about Lopez’s death and said he, Bush, had stabbed Lopez with a knife.
The informant said Bush visited him again in September and told him, “I can’t believe I had to do this.”
The informant “said Jason Bush told him he had to take care of a brother … because he (the brother) was a traitor to the race and a Jew,” the court document states.
The informant said Bush told him the traitor was Bumstead.
He said Bush told him they lured Bumstead to the area where he was killed by telling him they were going camping.
The informant identified the third person who was allegedly with Bush during the killings of Lopez and Bumstead. That person, who was 17 at the time of Bumstead’s death, had previously been interviewed by Douglas County detectives investigating the murder.
On July 6, Kruse and Groseclose interviewed that man at his home in the Southwest. During the interview, Groseclose said the man admitted that he was present when Bush stabbed Lopez and when Bush shot Bumstead.
He told the officers that he, Bush, Bumstead and a fourth person planned to go shooting and drinking in the Douglas Creek area. They went to Bumstead’s home and got two guns, then went to Wal-Mart to buy ammunition. They bought beer at a convenience store.
He said Bush drove the group to Douglas Creek in his red Chevy S-10 Blazer. They arrived after dark. The man said he was shooting Bush’s .22 rifle, Bumstead was shooting a rifle and Bush was shooting a rifle that came from Bumstead’s house.
About five minutes after they arrived at Douglas Creek, Bush shot Bumstead in the back. He said Bush then walked up to Bumstead and shot him a second time in the head. Bush then buried the gun he used and another shotgun.
The witness told Kruse and Groseclose that he was afraid Bush would kill him or harm his family if he ever discussed either murder.
The two officers then spoke to the fourth person who was supposedly present when Bumstead was killed. That person was reluctant to speak with the officers, saying Bush threatened to murder him and his family if he ever said anything.
Groseclose traveled to the man’s home in the Midwest to interview him.
He told the officer that after Bush killed Bumstead, he pointed the rifle first at one of the witnesses and then at the other, saying he would kill them and their families if they said anything. The man said he took off running at that point, and Bush chased after him in his Blazer and pointed the rifle at him and told him to get in the vehicle.
They stopped after that and Bush buried the guns.
The man told Groseclose he moved to the Midwest to hide from Bush.
Police conducted a search for the guns, but still have not found them. The sheriff’s office is planning to do more searches.
None of the informants are identified in court documents.
“These witnesses believe Jason Bush continues to be a threat to them because of their knowledge of the murders,” Groseclose wrote in the affidavit. “Jason Bush has been an active member of Aryan Nations groups and the Minutemen group in Arizona. The witnesses believe Jason Bush’s connection to these groups could provide him with the ability to harm them or their families.”