Brenda Rasmussen, a Washington state woman, reported her 65-year-old husband missing in September.
Now, five months and one federal investigation later, she and her two adult sons are charged in connection with his murder.
A U.S. Marshals Task Force and local sheriff’s deputies took Rasmussen, 55, and sons Danny Jones, 34, and Andrew Jones, 31, into custody Tuesday in Arizona, according to media reports. Authorities believe Rasmussen fled to her youngest son’s property in the Grand Canyon State after authorities began investigating her husband’s disappearance as a possible homicide.
The mom and both sons face one count of rendering criminal assistance in connection with Jerry Rasmussen’s death. None of the three were officially accused of his murder as of Thursday, but reports indicate that authorities expect to file more charges as the investigation unfolds.
Wife Reports Husband Missing
According to media sources, Brenda Rasmussen phoned police in Stevens County, Washington — a rural area north of Spokane near the Canadian border — to report her husband Jerry missing on Sept. 27.
That day, sheriff’s deputies met with the 55-year-old at her home where she lived with her husband and her son Danny to take an official statement.
At the time, she reportedly told officers that Jerry hadn’t been home in weeks, but that she’d only grown concerned for his well-being in recent days.
Her husband, she said, “had been known to leave and be gone for extended periods in the past,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a public statement. What’s more, the Washington woman told police she and Jerry had been “arguing recently,” and that she assumed he needed space.
Still, after “several weeks” went by without contact from her husband, Brenda Rasmussen claimed she became worried and began calling Jerry’s family members who lived in the area to ask if they’d seen him.
But they hadn’t, she said, which prompted her to call 911.
Search Team Finds Body
Armed with the information provided by his wife, Stevens County officials set out to bring Jerry home.
But investigators soon found holes in Rasmussen’s story — they couldn’t corroborate her account of her husband’s disappearance after speaking with Jerry’s family. The case was turned over to the office’s Detective Unit, and within the first month of the investigation, Brenda Rasmussen and her sons were officially “persons of interest” in the criminal probe.
By Nov. 12, police had gotten court approval to search the Rasmussen family property for any signs of Jerry.
“During the service of the warrant, cadaver dogs were used to conduct a sniff of the area,” the sheriff’s office wrote in its statement.
“The dogs indicated the presence of the odor of human remains coming from the area of a new storage shed recently placed on the property,” authorities added.
In December, forensic teams excavated the human remains from the ground under the shed. The remains were later “positively identified” as Jerry’s, and a subsequent autopsy determined the 65-year-old was killed by a gunshot wound to the head.
Brenda Rasmussen Charged in Murder Probe
The unearthed remains were enough for the sheriff’s office to charge Rasmussen and her sons with rendering criminal aid.
Arrest warrants were issued for all three, but authorities soon discovered that the mother and her son Danny Jones were nowhere to be found at their Washington home.
Andrew Jones, her younger son who reportedly lived and owned property in Bullhead City, Arizona, was already a person of interest in the case, and so Stevens County officials reached out to local authorities as well as U.S. Marshals to aid in their search.
“Our law enforcement partners in Arizona developed leads as to where the suspects may be staying,” the sheriff’s office wrote.
On Tuesday, Rasmussen and her sons were arrested in Fort Mohave and booked in a county jail on the criminal aid charges. None appear to have been charged with Jerry Rasmussen’s murder.
Officials said the investigation is continuing and that more charges may be filed. Police did not offer a motive for the alleged killing, and it’s unclear if the victim was the father of suspects Danny and Andrew Jones.
The three are set to be extradited to Washington for their arraignment in a Stevens County court.