A woman and her two adult sons were arrested in Arizona this week about two months after authorities in Washington state discovered her husband’s remains buried beneath a shed at the family’s home.
The man, whom law enforcement officials said was fatally shot in the head, died at a time when homicide rates in several major U.S. cities were on the rise. According to a recent report from the nonpartisan think tank Council on Criminal Justice, an assessment of crime data gathered from 22 cities in 2021 found a 5 percent uptick in murders compared with those reported the year prior, with most of those cities also reporting a rise in homicides and other violent crimes.
The deceased man was identified by the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) in Washington as 65-year-old Jerry Rasmussen, who was reported missing by his wife, 55-year-old Brenda Rasmussen, on September 27, 2021.
Brenda Rasmussen told authorities at the time that she had been arguing with her husband prior to his disappearance but said he had a history of leaving their home for long periods of time, according to a Wednesday press release from the SCSO. Jerry Rasmussen had left “several weeks prior” to the time his wife contacted authorities, the SCSO said.
The sheriff’s office said officials “became suspicious” after speaking with the missing man’s wife and other family members. Brenda Rasmussen later was identified by detectives as a person of interest in her husband’s disappearance, as were her two sons, 34-year-old Danny Jones and 31-year-old Andrew Jones. The older son lived with the parents at their home in Washington and the younger son was believed to be living in Arizona, the SCSO said.
A search warrant that was served on November 12 led to cadaver dogs alerting authorities to the possible presence of human remains “coming from the area of a new storage shed recently placed on the property,” authorities said.
A subsequent search warrant executed on December 7 unearthed human remains beneath the shed, and an autopsy later confirmed the remains were those of Jerry Rasmussen, whose cause of death was identified as “a gunshot wound to the head,” the SCSO said.
Brenda Rasmussen and her eldest son had left the home during the investigation, the SCSO said, and arrest warrants for all three family members were issued for allegedly “rendering criminal assistance 1st degree relating to the death of Jerry Rasmussen” after his remains were found.
The SCSO said it worked with the U.S. Marshals Service and Mohave County Sherriff’s Office to track down the mother and her sons, who were arrested in Fort Mohave, Arizona, on Tuesday.
The woman and her sons were taken to Mohave County Jail but expected to be moved to Washington “in the near future,” sheriff’s officials said.
Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Marshals Service for comment and will update this article with any response.