A Spokane resident has been arrested and charged in connection with the murder of Jake Colvin, a 25-year-old man from Valley, Washington, who was found dead in a sport utility vehicle parked outside of St. Patrick Hospital on Sunday afternoon.
Leo Antonio Rodriguez, 34, drove the white Chevrolet Suburban from Spokane to Missoula with the body of Colvin on board. Colvin was shot to death, but the specifics of the crime and where the crime took place remain under investigation.
The Missoula County Attorney's Office on Tuesday charged Rodriguez with tampering with evidence, a felony, and requested a $100,000 bail when he appeared in Missoula County Justice Court.
Missoula police remain mum on whether they consider Rodriguez a suspect in the shooting, but Deputy Missoula County Attorney Selene Koepke noted his possible involvement in the homicide.
"The state should also point out, the Missoula Police Department and the Spokane Police Department are actively investigating this as a homicide charge," she said.
She also noted that Rodriguez, who appeared to have several tattoos around his eyes, has a significant criminal history that includes gang activity, drug possession, and stalking and threatening with the intent to terrorize.
The last time he was arrested in Spokane in 2014, he claimed to have been using heroin and methamphetamine, she said.
"The defendant is not one who abides by society's laws or court orders," Koepke added.
Acting Justice of the Peace Shane Vannatta set bail at $100,000 and remanded Rodriguez to the Missoula County jail.
According to charging documents, when police arrived at 12:22 p.m. Sunday, they saw a white Suburban parked facing the wrong direction in front of the emergency entrance at St. Patrick Hospital. The vehicle had keys in the ignition and the lights were on.
The dead body of Colvin was sitting in the passenger seat. The affidavit of probable cause noted that rigor mortis had already set in, meaning the man had been dead for quite some time.
Rodriguez, the driver, was found in the bathroom in front of the sink, covered in tattoos and wearing a white T-shirt and boots. According to prosecutors, Rodriguez appeared to be nervous and his pupils were dilated. Water covered the counter and had splashed on the floor.
Though he had no weapons on him, a .380 Hi-Point handgun was later found underneath a plastic garbage bag in the restroom.
MPD spokesman Travis Welsh said Tuesday morning that Colvin was a person of interest in the joint homicide investigation between the Missoula and Spokane police departments, but he wouldn't say whether or not he is officially a suspect in the homicide case.
Rodriguez initially told police Colvin was shot in Spokane before he drove him to Missoula, Welsh said.
Investigators are still trying to ascertain exactly where the shooting took place, what happened prior to the shooting, and why the body ended up in Missoula. They are also investigating whether drugs were a factor in the man's death.
"The driver of the car was the only source of information that we had, other than what we can see in the car," Welsh said.
Welsh confirmed that Colvin and the driver had some sort of relationship, but it's unclear whether "it was good or if it was bad, or if there was conflict."