A 46-year-old man in Washington state has been arrested in connection with a bizarre series of alleged crimes, including the disappearance of still-missing 58-year-old Leticia Martinez-Cosman after she accompanied him to a Mariners game, the kidnapping and botched killing of Martinez-Cosman’s special-needs son, and a jewelry heist from a Seattle Costco.
Brett Michael Gitchel, who was first taken into custody on April 5, is now formally charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping, and unlawful possession of a firearm for allegedly taking Martinez-Cosman’s 24-year-old son, Patrick Cosman, from his home and trying to strangle him to death on April 2, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.
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.
“Within a three days period, Brett Gitchel was the last person to be seen with Leticia Martinez-Cosman. Brett Gitchel would drive Leticia’s vehicle to a remote area outside Seattle for a short period of time the next day, kidnap and attempt to kill her son and burn Leticia’s vehicle,” documents filed in King County Superior Court state, according to Tacoma Fox affiliate KCPQ.
Investigators say that Gitchel and Martinez-Cosman were last seen together on the evening of March 31, attending a Seattle Mariners game at T-Mobile Park. Martinez-Cosman has not been seen or contacted by her family or friends since the game. She is described as being 5 foot 9 and weighing about 135 pounds with green eyes and brown hair.
The Seattle Times reported that the day after the game, Martinez-Cosman’s brother 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.
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.
“Martinez-Cosman is still missing, and though extensive social, public, and national media have drawn attention to this incident, no one has been able to provide evidence of Leticia being alive after she left the Mariners game with Brett Michel Gitchel,” prosecutors reportedly wrote in court filings.
Gitchel is currently being held in the King County Correctional Facility on a $5 million bond, records show.
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