10:36 AM: Two new developments in connection with the investigation of the disappearance of Leticia Martinez-Cosman:
First, Seattle Police confirm they found a person dead in Renton while investigating tips in . This was first reported late last night by KOMO TV, and a WSB reader pointed us to that story very early today; we have since confirmed the discovery with SPD – this is the statement sent by SPD spokesperson Det. Judinna Gulpan:
SPD Homicide Detectives followed leads obtained during the investigation which resulted in the recovery of a deceased subject in the Renton area Tuesday afternoon. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office will confirm the identity of the deceased and the cause and manner of death.
We have no further information to share at this time.
(The Medical Examiner usually releases information after 3 pm, so we might find out more later today.) Renton is also where Ms. Martinez-Cosman’s 24-year-old son told police he had escaped from a man who kidnapped and tried to kill him; that attack is the subject of some of the charges filed against Brett M. Gitchel, as reported here Monday. Police say Gitchel is the man last seen with her, at and leaving the March 31st Mariners game, and that he is the arsonist who torched her car, found burning on Beacon Hill. Gitchel remains in the King County Jail in lieu of $5,050,000 bail.
That additional $50,000 bail is because of another case filed against him – which we just discovered this morning while doublechecking Gitchel’s status. This one is the Genesee Hill burglary caught on video and originally published in WSB Crime Watch on March 28th, days before the disappearance. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Gitchel on Tuesday with second-degree burglary in that case. The victim also uploaded his security video with an SPD report and the charging documents say a detective viewing that video identified the intruder as Gitchel (as did WSB readers). Here’s the clip we published:
Meantime, in addition to the reader report we originally published, there is one additional detail – the burglary victim recalled seeing the same man, now identified as Gitchel, walking on his street the day before. We’ll add the narrative from these charging documents as soon as we can.
12:02 PM: Here’s that narrative, with the victim’s name and address references redacted:
On March 28, 2023, at 1:50 pm, 911 received a call from (burglary victim). The call details stated “Inv. burg, occd 1200 to 0130. Susp into RP’s backyard multiple times, tried the back door, ripped down the cameras and cut the cord, broke into RP’s shed and stole a leaf blower and clock, no wpns, avail 1700, CB policy adv.” An initial report was taken by a Telephone Reporting Unit officer and as such no officer responded to the scene. (The victim) submitted three videos to the General Investigations Unit on March 28th around 2:35 pm. Those videos were later uploaded to evidence.com under this case number. After having reviewed the surveillance videos I recognized the suspect as someone I had seen on another SPD bulletin as Gitchell, Brett M. (DOB xxxx 1976). I reached out to the victim to try to get more information about the incident.
(He) reported that on the morning of March 28th he was notified by his wife that the cable/internet was out. (He) initially just thought that there might be an outage in the area and then spent some time resetting the box thinking that might resolve the problem. When it did not, he eventually made his way outside and located the cable box on the outside of the house. (He) discovered that the cables coming into the house had been cut. As he continued to look around, he found that his security cameras had been removed and that entry had been made into his garden shed in his back yard as well as attempted in his alley shed. (He) found that items were missing from the shed.
(The victim) noted that his house (location information redacted). The house has a fully fenced back yard to the east of the residence. There are two gated access points to the yard, and chain ink fence on the (street) side and a wooden gate with a barrel lock and matching trellis on the alley side. The yard is surrounded by well-manicured foliage and the gate has the house number on it. It would be apparent to anyone that this was not public property and that it was someone’s private residence.
(The victim’s) security cameras are manufactured by Blink and the videos are stored remotely, either in cloud storage or an external module. Therefore the surveillance videos from the incident were still available … even though his cameras were stolen. (He) stated that the videos showed that Gitchel first made entry into the backyard around 11:45 pm March 27th. Gitchel then proceeds to come and go from the yard through the gate that accesses the alleyway numerous times until around 1:05 am on March 28. Gitchel is first seen on cameras with his face covered and wearing blue latex/nitrile gloves.
Gitchel is wearing a distinctive two-toned Mariners hooded sweatshirt which has a teal hood and shoulders (to the elbow) but is otherwise dark blue with “Seattle” emblazoned across the front with khaki pants. The suspect is wearing black rimmed glasses and a medical mask. The videos are not timestamped but it appears that Gitchel first enters the property from the alleyway (based on the angle he approaches the camera from) without a mask on. When he notices the security cameras, which would have been emitting a blue light, he turns and leaves the yard. Gitchel then later returns with his face covered, but he does not change his clothing. Gitchel is then seen manipulating the cameras to alter their field of view, before ultimately deciding to remove the cameras altogether. Gitchel eventually returned to the yard without the medical mask on. The remaining camera captured a very clear image of him including a clear image of his face. Gitchel appears to be wearing black shoes with red on the front, possibly the soles, which is not clear on the other videos. This camera is also eventually removed, but it appears that Gitchel missed it in the first round up.
Gitchel tries to open the back door to the residence but finds that despite the glass screen door being ajar, the door was locked. Gitchel was unable to gain entry to the house but does gain entry to the garden shed. (The victim) stated that the door to the garden shed was shut and that there is a lock on the door, but that it is usually unlocked. (He) stated that Gitchel removed a clock from the exterior of the garden shed (inexpensive outdoor clock) as well as a gas-powered Echo backpack blower (valued around $380). (He) also stated that a pair of shears that had been inside the garden shed were taken, and it appeared that Gitchel tried to pry open the alley shed, which was locked, with them. (The victim) stated that there are some faint pry marks on the shed and that the shears were damaged.
After reviewing the video (the victim) remembered that he has encountered the suspect the day before. On March 27 around 3:00 pm, (the victim) was on (the street in front of his house) unloading golf clubs from his vehicle. (He) saw Gitchel walking by northbound on the east sidewalk and Gitchel commented to him that it was a nice day for golf. (The victim) later saw Gitchel walking southbound on … the west side of the street. (The victim) noted that he did not recognize him from the neighborhood, but that he didn’t think much of it until after he saw the security videos the next day (He) confirmed that he does not know Gitchel and that he did not have permission to come onto his private property or to remove any of the items.
(The victim) eventually located his missing cameras in the neighboring property to the south. They appeared undamaged and (the victim) was able to remount them to his house. At this time the clock and backpack blower are still outstanding. Comcast/Xfinity had to respond to the house to repair the cut cable wires but (the victim) was not charged for this service.
Still nothing indicating what might have brought Gitchel to West Seattle, aside from the reference in the missing-woman investigation to him allegedly claiming he had attended WSHS. As noted previously, the charging documents from Monday list his “last known address” as in Orting; this one, and the original probable-cause document, list an address in Federal Way.
4:23 PM UPDATE: This afternoon’s daily release of case information by the Medical Examiner’s Office did not include an ID for the person found dead in Renton.