Suspects returned to Stevens County for hearing
K.S. Brooks / The Independent
Late on February 16, 2022, suspects Brenda Rasmussen, Danny Ray Jones and Andrew Jones arrived back in Stevens County. They appeared in Stevens County Superior Court Thursday morning on charges related to the murder of 65-year-old Valley resident Jerry Rasmussen.
Brenda and her two sons, Danny and Andrew Jones, became fugitives on October 1, 2021 after authorities began to question their involvement in the disappearance of Jerry Rasmussen. His body was discovered on December 1, 2021, after a search warrant was served and Human Remains Detecting K-9s alerted authorities to a possible cadaver under a new shed in the couple’s backyard.
The story originally told by Brenda around the 28th of September, 2021, was that Jerry had driven his motorcycle out of the driveway on September 8th, after the two had an argument. According to her statement, he had taken $30,000 cash from the refrigerator and a handgun before he departed.
The suspects were apprehended on February 7, 2022, through a joint effort between the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and Mohave County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. The three were held in Mohave County jail until they could be extradited back to Washington state.
On February 17th, with new information obtained by authorities, County Deputy Prosecutor Erika George informed Court Commissioner Timothy D. Trageser that the state recommended raising the bail based on amended charges for the defendants. For Danny, the new charges included Murder in the Second Degree and Unlawful Disposal of Human Remains, warranting a new bail amount of $1Million. The same bail and charges were levied against Brenda. For Andrew, the additional charge of Unlawful Disposal of Human Remains was added, and bail was increased to $300,000. The original charge was Rendering Criminal Assistance in the First Degree.
The three were considered a flight risk as they did, in fact, leave Stevens County during the investigation, and when they were apprehended in Arizona, authorities discovered they had “go bags” containing survival items on the ready, as well as a map of Mexico.
On the widescreen monitor in the courtroom, Danny Jones looked defeated and forlorn, wearing black and white jail garb. Commissioner Trageser stated that at one point, Danny had revealed during questioning that his mother, Brenda, had directed him to get rid of Jerry’s motorcycle. The judge also mentioned that Brenda had expressed that she wanted to divorce Jerry before his disappearance.
Trageser mentioned that it seemed Brenda was the driving force behind Jerry’s murder, and that all three of them have no ties to this area now, so he agreed with the state’s suggestion of raising the bail amount for all three suspects.
According to police reports, upon apprehension and questioning in Fort Mohave, Arizona, “Brenda sat quietly and did not seem surprised about anything that was being said.” Almost immediately, she requested a lawyer.
Andrew, on the other hand, “appeared very surprised” when told what the charges were against him. He stated that he had been planning to visit his mother, so when Danny offered to pick him up, they drove together. Andrew said that when they got to Brenda and Jerry’s residence, that his mother “did not seem worried but ‘seemed like something was off,’” according to the report. He also stated that they were not running from authorities, but from “unknown people” making threats against them. When they left Washington state, he claimed that “after they left the house, they went to five or six different states, and were being harassed and followed by people on motorcycles all along the way.” Andrew repeatedly claimed during questioning that he did not know Jerry was deceased.
It was revealed during an interview with Danny Jones that Jerry Rasmussen did not allow Danny to talk to his mother, Brenda, on the phone or take her out for her birthday. Danny also expressed that “he and Jerry had gotten off on the wrong foot when they first met, and don’t get along well.” He informed detectives that he was not aware of Jerry ever assaulting his mother, just that “Jerry is extremely picky with his things and has many house rules. Danny said because of all of this, he did not feel comfortable there at all. Danny went on to say that Brenda was not happy there, and did not want to be there, but she couldn’t do anything about it,” the report states. When questioned about it, Danny revealed that his mother had told him that Jerry had threatened to kill her if she ever left.
There was much contradiction during the interview as to the timing of Danny’s arrival at the couple’s home, when the concrete pad concealing Jerry’s body was poured and the ordering of the shed which was placed atop that. When detectives showed Danny a photo of where Jerry’s body was found, all he could say was, “Who did that?”
When asked, Danny admitted he had lied to police because he was “too afraid because I didn’t know what the hell was going on.” He also told authorities to talk to his mother because he knew she was hiding something. Eventually, Danny said he wanted a lawyer.
In the report, it explains that during a search of the residence where the three suspects were staying, authorities discovered “survival type equipment in ‘go bags.’ There was also a list of things to get which included food, water, guns and ammunition. In the same room, there was also a map of Mexico.”
In court Thursday, public defenders were appointed for the suspects, and in-person court dates were scheduled. Brenda Rasmussen is to appear on February 28, 2022 at 1:30 p.m.; Danny Jones on March 1 at 1:30 p.m.; and Andrew Jones on March 1 at 10 a.m.