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Seattle police investigating disappearance of woman from Mariners game recover unidentified body in ditch

Brett Michael Gitchel and Leticia Martinez-Cosman (Seattle Police Dept.)

Brett Michael Gitchel and Leticia Martinez-Cosman (Seattle Police Dept.)

Investigators in Washington state investigating the disappearance of a woman last seen attending a Major League Baseball game say they have recovered an unidentified dead body in a remote area not far from where the missing woman’s 24-year-old son managed to fight off an attacker after he was kidnapped from his home, police confirmed to Law&Crime.

Leticia Martinez-Cosman, 58, has been missing since she attended a Mariners game at T-Mobile Park with 46-year-old Brett Michael Gitchel on the evening of Friday, March 31. In a bizzare twist, authorities say that in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 2, Gitchel kidnapped Martinez-Cosman’s special-needs son, Patrick Cosman, and drove him around for hours before stopping the car and attempting to strangle him to death. Fortunately, Cosman was able to escape and reach help before being seriously injured.

“Seattle Police Department Homicide Detectives followed leads obtained during the investigation which resulted in the recovery of a deceased subject in the Renton area Tuesday afternoon,” Detective Judinna J. Gulpan of SPD Public Affairs wrote in an email to Law&Crime. “The King County Medical Examiner’s Office will confirm the identity of the deceased and the cause and manner of death.”

The body was recovered less than a mile from where Cosman escaped his kidnapper/attacker, according to a report from Seattle ABC affiliate KNWN. The report says that the body had been left in a ditch on the side of the road in a cul-de-sac located in an unpopulated part of Renton.

Gitchel on April 5 was arrested and charged with a slew of crimes in connection to abducting and attacking Cosman, including first-degree attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Gitchel was also charged with one count each of first-degree theft and second-degree arson. The theft stems from $10,000 in jewelry allegedly being stolen from a Seattle Costco while the arson charge stems from Gitchel allegedly using an accelerant to torch Martinez-Cosman’s car less than 2 miles from where the Mariners play.

According to a report from The Seattle Times, Martinez-Cosman and a friend first met Gitchel at a Seattle Costco on March 19 and made plans to attend the March 31 baseball game. Martinez-Cosman reportedly sent that friend a selfie of herself and Gitchel at the game, which the friend later turned over to police.

Leticia Martinez-Cosman and Brett Gitchel (Seattle Police Dept.)

Leticia Martinez-Cosman and Brett Gitchel (Seattle Police Dept.)

The day after the game, Martinez-Cosman’s brother reportedly began receiving “odd and uncharacteristic” text messages from her phone. It was not immediately clear what the messages said, but his attempts to call Martinez-Cosman went straight to voicemail.

Several hours later, about 2 a.m. on Sunday, Patrick Cosman — who lives with Martinez-Cosman — was awakened by an unknown man inside of his home who was knocking on his bedroom door, the Times reported. The man reportedly convinced Cosman to get in his SUV, telling him that Martinez-Cosman had been in an accident and they had to get to the hospital.

However, after driving around for several hours, the man allegedly stopped the SUV, went into the backseat, and tried to strangle Cosman, who was seated in the passenger seat. Cosman later told police that while the unknown man was trying to kill him, he told the son that he was “doing this for his mother and that this was to spare him from being committed to an institution because of his conditions,” a police affidavit reportedly states.

Cosman reportedly escaped by biting the man’s arm, then called his father in Texas, who contacted the authorities. Police said they found Cosman covered in blood when they arrived and he informed officers that he had not heard from his mother since Friday, the Times reported.

An affidavit obtained by Tacoma radio station KIRO-FM stated that when Gitchel was brought in for questioning, he had “numerous visible injuries on his body, including many cuts and scrapes on his hands,” as well as bruising to his face.

Injuries to Gitchel’s hand (Seattle Police Dept.)

Prosecutors say that surveillance footage and cellphone location data placed Gitchel at Cosman’s house at the time he was abducted and in the same area where Cosman was strangled at the time he escaped.

Additionally, the location data reportedly places Gitchel in the 900 block of Golf Drive South, where authorities found Martinez-Cosman’s Honda CRV “fully engulfed” in flames at about 7 a.m. on April 2. Prosecutors say surveillance footage from a gas station less than a mile away from where Martinez-Cosman’s car was found showed Gitchel buying a gas canister, gasoline, and a lighter about a half-hour prior to the vehicle being torched, the Times reported.  A canister appearing to match the one Gitchel purchased was reportedly found at the scene of the fire.

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Gitchel is currently being held in the King County Correctional Facility on a $5 million bond, records show.


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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.