WEB OF LIES: Twisted tale surrounds the murder of Valley man
K.S. Brooks / Chewelah Independent
Jerry Rasmussen, 65, of Valley went missing back in September of 2021. What followed has been a rollercoaster of lies and deceit, finally leading to the arrest of his wife, Brenda Rasmussen and her sons, Danny and Andrew Jones, for Rendering Criminal Assistance 1st degree related to the death of Jerry Rasmussen. Rasmussen’s body was discovered by authorities on December 1st.
Brenda and her sons were taken into custody in Fort Mohave, Arizona, on Monday, February 7, 2022. They are currently being held at the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office jail, awaiting extradition. Also arrested was Brenda’s father, Daniel Tavaglione, on the same charges. Tavaglione posted bond on Friday, February 11, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department jail in California.
Brenda Rasmussen and her sons had gone on the run back on October 1, 2021, after Jerry Rasmussen’s son, Eric, and authorities began to realize that the trio’s lies weren’t adding up. Eric had come up to Valley on September 28 in hopes of finding his father.
The last time Eric had visited was during August of 2021. He had spent a couple of days with his dad. “Then two weeks later, he wasn’t answering the phone. Brenda made lies for about three weeks,” concerning Jerry’s whereabouts, Eric told The Independent. Eric, who lives in California and was normally in touch quite frequently by phone with his father, last spoke with his dad on the Friday before Labor Day weekend. Then, that Saturday, his father didn’t answer his phone.
Eric contacted Brenda who told him things like his father was in the garden and other excuses as to why he couldn’t come to the phone. Finally, at the end of September, she stated that the truth was that she and Jerry had had an argument and he had taken “$30,000 from the freezer” and left on his motorcycle, according to police reports. She also told authorities that he has gone on long motorcycle drives in the past.
Neighbors told The Independent that Jerry seldom went anywhere without Brenda. Eric stated that his father never left Brenda for long, especially seeing as she could not drive and did not have a driver’s license. Neighbors also commented that they never heard arguing coming from the house until the day Brenda and her sons left town.
When Brenda first called the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office at the end of September, she was told that since Jerry was not in any danger, and because he had left of his own accord, that they could not file a missing person’s report. Eric contacted authorities, however, and explained that the circumstances surrounding his father’s disappearance were suspicious and, according to the Spokesman-Review, he filled out a missing person’s report at the Chewelah Police Department.
It appears, according to police records, that a prebuilt shed was purchased by Brenda on September 1. Danny told authorities that he bought the shed as a thank you for the couple’s help with his recent home sale and move. But neighbors as well as Eric stated that Jerry was a carpenter and would have preferred to build the shed himself, as he built the others in the yard. The shed was delivered on September 7 and placed on a concrete pad in the backyard. It was beneath this concrete that Jerry’s body was later discovered.
Brenda’s father, Daniel Tavaglione, is documented in police reports as flying into Spokane on September 2. It is said that Tavaglione came to Valley to repay Jerry a loan that had been outstanding for a few years. Eric Rasmussen, however, stated that the last time his father and Tavaglione had spoken about the loan, Jerry became frustrated over the lack of repayment and told Tavaglione he was no longer welcome in his home.
On September 8th, Brenda’s son, Danny, and Tavaglione drove Jerry’s green pickup truck to Las Vegas where Tavaglione took a flight home to California.
Danny told authorities that he had been alone in Las Vegas after his grandfather flew home, but surveillance video at the hotel, according to police reports, clearly shows both he and his brother Andrew together. And, hotel housekeeping staff notified authorities that a jacket containing five or six “loaded .45 caliber Glock magazines” was located, left behind in Danny’s hotel room.
Danny then transported Andrew to the Valley, WA home. Shortly thereafter, on September 19, Danny purchased a large van, which “was captured on a license plate reader in Las Vegas southbound towards California on the 22nd, just two days after registering the van,” the police report reads. It was also reported that Danny wired $2,000 to his brother and mother while they were in Huntington Beach, California. The suspects omitted mention of this trip in any and all interviews.
It is believed, due to oil stains found in the back of the van that did not exist during the sale, that this van was used to transport Jerry’s motorcycle for disposal.
On October 8, a search warrant was executed for the Rasmussen home.
On November 5, detectives spoke with Brenda’s ex-husband who informed them that she was running because “she is scared of the Hell’s Angels.” He also said that in the past when they spoke, “Brenda had to wait till Jerry was gone to speak to him, because Jerry would not allow it.” He mentioned that four or five months earlier, he had asked Brenda if she was happy in reference to her marriage, and she said, “[Expletive] no I’m not happy.” She told her ex-husband that she couldn’t just leave because “it’s not that simple.” This is in stark contrast to her statements to law enforcement during which she said “she and Jerry were very happy and they loved each other.”
Human Remains Detection dogs were brought to the Valley home on November 12, where they indicated possible remains near the new shed. An additional search warrant was issued to allow detectives to “vent” the earth around the shed to allow any gasses to gather. Another warrant was issued to allow the Washington State Patrol mobile crime lab to examine the interior of the residence.
A warrant was executed on December 1 to remove the shed. Authorities began excavating to reveal a “layer of aluminum foil just under the first layer of gravel.” Shortly thereafter, they discovered a body wrapped in a pink blanket and plastic wrap. During the autopsy, authorities confirmed the identity of Jerry Rasmussen. Cause of death was determined to be a gunshot to the head.
On December 17, 2021, detectives requested warrants be issued for the arrest of the suspects for Rendering Criminal Assistance.
Working in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department, Brenda Rasmussen and her two sons were taken into custody on February 7, 2021. They have waived extradition and will be arraigned shortly after returning to Stevens County. Daniel Tavaglione is scheduled for a May 11 court date according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.