Police recover body in Renton amid search for missing woman

Leticia Martinez-Cosman, 58, went missing after a Mariners game.

The Seattle Police Department’s investigation into a missing 58-year-old woman led them to the discovery of a deceased subject in the Renton area Tuesday afternoon (April 11).

Seattle police have not confirmed the identity of the deceased subject, as they wait for verification from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, according to a statement provided from the department.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office will confirm the identity of the deceased and the cause and manner of death.

The department declined to provide the specific location regarding the discovery of the deceased subject.

Seattle police publicly declared Leticia Martinez-Cosman missing on April 5. She was last seen the evening of March 31 at T-Mobile Park attending a Seattle Mariners game.

A photo of Martinez-Cosman at the game showed her sitting next to 46-year-old Brett Michael Gitchel. On April 6, Seattle police arrested and booked Gitchel into the King County Jail for investigation of murder and kidnapping and investigation of theft and assault, according to the department.

According to charging documents from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Gitchel is accused of kidnapping Martinez-Cosman’s disabled adult son and attempting to strangle the son to unconsciousness, two days after the Mariners game on April 2.

Martinez-Cosman’s son woke to the sound of an unknown man knocking on his bedroom door inside the house in the middle of the night, according to documents. The man told the son that his mother had been in an accident and that he was going to take him to see her at the hospital.

The son followed the man into the passenger seat of the vehicle and after driving for “what seemed like hours,” the son said to police, the man stopped and exited the vehicle. The son advised police that the man reentered the vehicle from behind him in the backseat and attempted to strangle him with an unknown material, according to documents.

After the two engaged in a struggle, the son escaped the vehicle and called 911, with the man fleeing the area in the vehicle.

Renton police responded at 4 a.m. to a report of a vehicle honking its horn and a suspicious man hiding from vehicles in the bushes. They contacted the son near the 3400 block of Talbot Road and transported him to Valley Medical Center.

At 6:49 a.m., the Seattle Fire Department responded to a vehicle fire in the 900 block of Golf Drive South in Seattle. Responders extinguished the vehicle, which was identified as Martinez-Cosman’s Honda CRV, and determined that the fire appeared to have been intentionally started with the use of accelerants.

A picture of Leticia Martinez-Cosman sitting next to Brett Michael Gitchel at the March 31 Mariners game, where she was last seen alive. (Courtesy of the Seattle Police Department)

A picture of Leticia Martinez-Cosman sitting next to Brett Michael Gitchel at the March 31 Mariners game, where she was last seen alive. (Courtesy of the Seattle Police Department)

According to charging documents, cell records of Gitchel’s phone activity that was used to triangulate the location and position of his phone were consistent with Gitchel being at Martinez-Cosman’s home in the middle of the night on April 2 and the son’s account of his assault. His cell records also show Gitchel in the 900 block of Golf Drive South at the time Martinez-Cosman’s vehicle was being set on fire.

Surveillance video shows Gitchel buying a gas can and lighter at a gas station just 15 minutes before the vehicle fire.

Seattle police apprehended Gitchel on April 5 at a Costco in Shoreline after tying him to the theft of approximately $9,699 worth of diamonds the day earlier from a Costco in Seattle. Shoreline Costco personnel recognized Gitchel from images provided by Seattle police to other Costco locations after the April 4 incident.

A search warrant of Gitchel’s vehicle on April 6 found a loaded handgun

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office rush-filed felony charges against Gitchel on April 10, including attempted murder in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree, theft in the first degree and arson in the second degree. They asked the King County Superior Court to set Gitchel’s bail at $5 million.

Prosecutors have not yet filed charges against Gitchel directly related to Martinez-Cosman’s disappearance nor the discovery of a deceased subject, awaiting further information.

“There is no doubt that he has information regarding her disappearance, he tried to murder her son, a witness to her disappearance and he has destroyed evidence by burning Leticia’s vehicle after his failed plan to kill her son,” the charging documents state.

Gitchel will be arraigned on April 24.