SEATTLE — An Orting man is accused of kidnapping and attempting to kill the son of a missing Seattle woman, shortly before lighting the woman’s car on fire. The missing woman has not been seen since March 31.
The suspect is 46-year-old Brett Michael Gitchel, who remains in King County Jail.
King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office found probable cause for multiple offenses, including attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping, theft, arson and unlawful possession of a firearm.
The missing woman is Leticia “Leti” Martinez-Cosman, 58, who was last seen on March 31 at a Seattle Mariners baseball game with Gitchel. She has not been found as of April 10.
Most of the charges result from Gitchel’s alleged actions against Martinez-Cosman’s son. Gitchel’s bail is set at $5 million. His arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. April 24 at the King County Courthouse.
“Leticia Martinez-Cosman is still missing, and though extensive social, public and national media have drawn attention to this incident, no one has been able to provide evidence of Leticia being alive after she left the Mariners game” with the suspect, according to Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Anderson in the charging documents.
According to the charging documents:
A few days prior to her disappearance, Martinez-Cosman and a friend initially met Gitchel at a Costco in Seattle on March 19.
Officials believe Martinez-Cosman drove her Honda CRV to the baseball game on March 31 and later sent a friend the photo of herself and Gitchel together at the game.
Texts from Martinez-Cosman’s phone to a friend the day of and after the game, April 1, stated she was leaving the game after running into a past boyfriend and was hanging out with him all night. Another text said she was planning to see that same friend again that night. Footage from T-Mobile Park shows Martinez-Cosman leaving the stadium with Gitchel, according to documents.
Martinez-Cosman was scheduled to babysit that evening, but texted to cancel, saying that she was OK. “While these messages came from Leticia’s phone, the author of the messages cannot be verified,” according to charging documents.
Calls to Martinez-Cosman’s phone were unanswered and eventually routed to voicemail.
Martinez-Cosman’s brother reported her as a missing person to the King County Sheriff’s Office on April 1. He also told police the texts from her phone on April 1 seemed “odd and uncharacteristic,” according to probable cause statements.
Martinez-Cosman’s adult son, who has disabilities, lives with her.
The son told police that around 2 a.m. April 2, an unknown man woke him up by knocking on his bedroom door inside the house. The unknown man matched the description later given of the Gitchel.
The unknown man told the son that Martinez-Cosman had been in an accident and that he was going to take the son to see her at the hospital. The son said they drove around for hours in an SUV-type vehicle.
At one point, the unknown man got out of the vehicle, then reportedly got into the vehicle behind the son and attempted to cover the son’s head with a bag; the son told officials he thought the man was trying to kill him.
The son was able to fight off the man inside the car. At one point the man attempted to strangle the man with his forearm on his neck and the son bit the unknown male on the hand. During the struggle in the vehicle, the horn was pressed several times. During the altercation, the man reportedly told the son he was “doing this for his mother,” charging documents state.
The son was able to get outside of the car and called 911. While he was on the phone with police, the man got back into the vehicle and drove off.
The son walked into an adjacent residential yard and hid in the bushes. Renton Police officers responded to the scene, following reports of a vehicle honking and a man hiding in the bushes around 4 a.m. The son was taken to the hospital before going home.
The charging documents state that no actions were taken to locate the suspect vehicle.
About two hours later, Seattle Fire responded to a vehicle fire near Lewis Park in South Seattle. The vehicle was engulfed in flames and identified as Martinez-Cosman’s 2016 Honda CRV. Fire investigators said the fire was intentionally set with an accelerant.
Police linked Martinez-Cosman’s phone number to the phone number of the suspect.
On April 4, Costco reported $10,000 worth of jewelry was stolen from the Seattle location, the same store Gitchel met Martinez-Cosman days before. The jewelry theft suspect was caught on surveillance and the suspect’s vehicle license plate was registered to Gitchel.
Gitchel was stopped by police entering a Shoreline Costco store around 7 p.m. April 5, where he was taken into custody.
According to documents, Gitchel reportedly denied going to any recent events or baseball games. He was wearing a Seattle Mariners wristband when was arrested, “but took the wristband off and hid it in his pocket before the interview,” documents state.
When he was shown the photo of himself and Martinez-Cosman at the Mariners game, Gitchel allegedly changed his story and said he was with her at the game.
The suspect told police he doesn’t know where she is at, and said she ran into some guy at the end of the game who left with her. At the time of the interview with police, Gitchel was wearing a similar outfit as in the photo and had “numerous visible injuries on his body,” documents state.
On April 6, police found a Glock handgun inside Gitchel’s vehicle.
Further cellphone data shows Gitchel allegedly went to a remote area in the mountains, then returned to Seattle in the early afternoon the day after the Mariners game. Surveillance footage from a Seattle gas station on April 2 shows Gitchel reportedly throwing away a jacket in the garbage, then purchasing a gas canister and a lighter before driving away. His purchases at the gas station occurred about 30 minutes before Martinez-Cosman’s Honda CRV was found on fire.
Gitchel’s felony history includes theft of a vehicle, alluding and assault, among other convictions.
This story was originally published in the Federal Way Mirror, a sister publication to The Herald.
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