Murder suspect caught in Spokane

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Utt

SANDPOINT — The suspect in the Wednesday murder of Hope resident Shirley Ann Ramey was taken into custody early Saturday morning at the Spokane train station without incident.

Nathan Lane Utt, who was being sought on a charge of first-degree murder following the death of the 78-year-old former city clerk, had a $500,000 warrant for his arrest. The 41-year-old was booked into the Spokane County Jail and was awaiting extradition back to Idaho.

During the investigation, Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler said detectives discovered Utt had fled the state and was believed to be in Oregon. With the assistance of the U.S. Marshall Service, detectives were able to track Utt to the Spokane Intermodal Center, where he was arrested at 12:30 a.m. Saturday without incident.

Ramey was found unresponsive by her husband at their Trestle Creek Road home around 5 p.m. Wednesday. Her cause of death has not been officially released, although cached versions of Bonner County dispatch records indicate she had been shot to death.

“There appears to be no apparent relationship between the Rameys and Utt, who at the time of the murder, was living in a camper on Trestle Creek Road, approximately one-fourth mile from the victim’s home,” Wheeler said in the press release.

BCSO detectives and patrol personnel have been working on the case around the clock since Ramey’s murder and working to apprehend Utt once he was identified as a suspect, Wheeler said.

The sheriff said the investigation has been a “complicated and tenacious one” that involved the Sandpoint, Spokane, and Coeur d’Alene police departments as well as the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshall Service.

“I have high praise for all these agencies, along with my dedicated staff at the sheriff’s office, for their efforts on this case,” he said.

Detectives are continuing to interview witnesses and process evidence, Wheeler said.

Sheriff’s officials did not immediately acknowledge the murder, waiting 24 hours before announcing Ramey’s death and that her killer was still on the loose. In the press release, Wheeler said it took more than 24 hours into the investigation to identify Utt as a suspect and find probable cause to bring charges against him.

Bonner County officials redacted the murder from its dispatch call log and removed Internet links which allow the public to view rudimentary information about fire and EMS calls in the community. However, a cached version remained accessible, which indicated that Clark Fork Ambulance said a paramedic was not needed because the patient was dead and that shell casings were present at the scene.

Wheeler called for the removal Friday of a reporter working on the case. Detective Sgt. Gary Johnston excoriated a reporter at the Bonner County Courthouse for publicizing information the county was ultimately unable to conceal and accused the Daily Bee of trying to sabotage the criminal case against Utt.

Utt, according to 1st District Court records, is a diagnosed schizophrenic with a hearing impairment. He was convicted of first- and second-degree stalking in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

Caroline Lobsinger can be reached by email at clobsinger@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @CarolDailyBee.

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