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Man arrested in California in Washington state killing

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Posted at 6:07 PM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 21:07:42-05

SEATTLE (AP) — Detectives have arrested a 32-year-old in California in connection with the death of a man whose body was found near a logging road in Washington state last week, authorities said Monday.

The King County Sheriff's Office said Jeremy Staeheli was arrested with the assistance of California police as he left a hotel room in Red Bluff, California, north of Sacramento.

Brandt Stewart, 34, was found dead Dec. 23 near a logging road in Skykomish, east of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade mountains. Investigators have not said how he was killed or what connection he may have had with the suspect, but Stewart's mother told KIRO-TV that her son had been shot in the head.

Staeheli's father, David Staeheli, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday that his son, who worked as a roofer, had struggled with his mental health after he fell off a ladder and struck his head. He also began using drugs, including methamphetamine, and the family's efforts to get him help failed, he said.

“He was a perfectly normal person until he fell at work,” David Staeheli said. “All of a sudden Jeremy wasn't Jeremy any more.”

In February Jeremy Staeheli was charged with shoving and knocking over his grandmother — then punching a deputy who tracked him down to arrest him two days later. He was found incompetent to stand trial, ordered to undergo a 45-day treatment program and eventually released on his own recognizance with the caveat that he be evaluated for an outpatient treatment regimen.

He did well for a while on medication, but it didn't last, David Staeheli said. He had not been in touch with his son recently and was unaware of the arrest before a reporter called.

Jeremy Staeheli filed a claim with the state Department of Labor and Industries in 2017 for a workplace injury. Early this year the department sued him to try to recoup more than $4,000 it says he was overpaid.

On Facebook, Jeremy Staeheli's recent conspiracy-minded posts drew concern from friends. On Dec. 24, the day after Stewart's body was found, he suggested people should watch out for groups of “white homeless or hippie people” kidnapping children and women.