Death in SUV in downtown Spokane ruled suspicious

Body found in SUV

The circumstances surrounding the death of a man found in an SUV in downtown Spokane earlier this week have been ruled as suspicious. 

Medics told police they were at the 7-11 at 2nd and Division on an unrelated call Tuesday afternoon. A GMC Yukon pulled up around 2 pm and the driver requested they check on the man in her passenger seat because he was having a medical emergency. AMR determined he was dead and had been for some time as rigor mortis had already set in. Rigor mortis sets in hours after a person has died. 

The driver of the Yukon told police she did not know the man and she had just met him earlier in the day at a gas station, however she was unable to identify which gas station. The driver said the man told her his name was "Bono." 

According to court documents, "Bono" told the driver he was not feeling well and asked her to hand him a blue bag. The driver told police she assumed he was diabetic but did not know for sure. When "Bono" appeared to need medical attention, the driver says she began heading toward Sacred Heart but came across the ambulance first. 

The other passenger in the SUV told police she had just met "Bono" earlier in the day, except it was at a house near the Fred Meyer at Thor/Freya. The woman told police they drove "Bono's" SUV past the Boulder Beach area and he began "to act weird" and she thought he might be handicapped. She says the driver told her "Bono" needed some of his medicine and she got it from his backpack in the SUV. The woman says the driver began to head toward the hospital, but they saw the ambulance first. 

Court documents show that detectives began asking clarifying questions and the woman said she wanted to leave and refused to cooperate.

Detectives noted in court records that the driver and passenger had similar statements about the dead man, but their accounts of what happened prior to his death were different. 

An SPD detective checking out the SUV noted there was a small, zippered pouch on the center console that is often used with insulin kits, as well as controlled substances and paraphernalia. A styrofoam cooler and open bottle of Smirnoff were also located in the SUV. 

Hours into their investigation, a woman arrived on scene at the outer perimeter and told police she recognized the SUV as her friend's, whom she identified as Baptiste Wendall Mathias. A fingerprint removed from the deceased confirmed he was Mathias. That woman told police her and Mathias had stayed at a Motel 6 in Spokane the last few days, but could not tell police the exact location of the Motel 6. The woman then became "evasive" and would not provide any additional information. 

Initial examination of the body did not reveal any signs of trauma, however the circumstances have led to a homicide investigation.

"The death of Mathias is suspicious," court documents state. "The witnesses who were with Mathias earlier in the day provided different statements as to the events of what occurred prior to his death. Another witness randomly showed up at the crime scene and was evasive in providing detailed information about the activities and locations Mathias had been prior to his death." 

With the death of Mathias being ruled as suspicious, detectives are investigating the case as a homicide and have filed a request for a search warrant of the SUV. 

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