Two Joint Base Lewis McChord soldiers charged in the murder of another former soldier were present at a house party on April 24 and 25 with the deceased prior to his death, according to law enforcement.
One of the soldiers was filmed rapping to music at the house in question, detectives said in their report, while the other was filmed by surveillance cameras washing what he acknowledged were blood stains from his car.
One of the charged soldiers also acknowledged to investigators that the deceased veteran had “fingered" them both for "a drug incident” late last year, according to probable cause affidavits requested by Army Times. Because of the ongoing investigation, law enforcement officials declined to release other records associated with the incident.
Kittitas County Sheriff’s detectives allege that Raylin D. James and Joshua Q. Gerald, both 20-year-old privates stationed at the joint base south of Seattle, attended a birthday party for Leroy J. Scott, also 20, the night before Scott was found dead and badly beaten in a local creek outside Ellensburg, Washington, a two hours-drive east of base on April 25.
While James and Gerald were still in the Army, Scott had separated in December 2019, according to I Corps officials. All three men were assigned to the 555th Engineer Brigade.
Gerald and James initially denied being present at the house party. But witnesses told detectives that there were two men who stayed the night matching their descriptions. Later, a video taken by one witness and provided to detectives showed a man identified as Gerald rapping to music at the house on the night following the murder, according to the affidavit.
Detectives also obtained surveillance video from an “Auto Spa” that showed James’ white Dodge Charger being washed in a self-clean bay. In the video, dark colored stains on the trunk lid and the bumper appeared to detectives to be a substance smeared by someone “with their hands.”
James “later admitted that this was Scott’s blood,” the affidavit reads. “The male in the video was identified as Raylin Dwayne James and can be seen washing the specific stains seen in the video from the vehicle.”
In an interview with Army CID agents, James eventually admitted to believing that Gerald had actually done something to Scott, according to the affidavit.
He told them that following the party on April 24, he gave the keys to his Dodge Charger to Gerald, Scott and a 20-year-old woman named Hadassah J. Fisch, before going to bed. Fisch’s home in Ellensburg was where the party was held, as she and Scott each had birthdays that weekend.
James said he awoke in the middle of the night to find that those three people and his car were gone. The next morning, a Saturday, James said he was told by Fisch that they needed to go wash the car.
“Once at the car wash, he saw what he believed to be blood on the back and side of his car that he said was [Scott’s] blood because [Scott] was missing," the affidavit reads. "He had questioned [Fisch] as to where [Scott] was and she said she didn’t know. [James] stated that he also confronted [Gerald] several times about where [Scott] was and he said he didn’t know. He admitted to driving out in an area at least twice looking for where [Scott] was.”
James and Gerald allegedly came to the party together in James’ vehicle. At the end of the weekend, Gerald tried to drive Scott’s vehicle back to base, though Gerald wouldn’t explain why he had Scott’s car keys, according to James.
Scott’s vehicle allegedly couldn’t make it to the base and the two abandoned it on the side of I-90. James followed Gerald during the drive, and after abandoning the car, Gerald got in James’ car and they drove back to base together. Scott’s vehicle was recovered and is in evidence pending a search warrant, the April 30 affidavit reads.
Additionally, “[James] confirmed that Scott had fingered both he and Gerald for a drug incident back in November/December and that he didn’t believe as of a couple months ago that Gerald was over what happened between them," the affidavit reads.
When Gerald was later interviewed, he denied ever being in Ellensburg and said he was with his girlfriend on the nights of both April 24 and 25.
When shown the video that a witness said depicted him in Ellensburg, Gerald denied that the video was taken there, even after being told that the background of the video was of Fisch’s house.
Gerald arrived at the interview wearing the same pants that he was wearing in the video, according to the detective. When he was later booked into jail, his red shoes were collected.
“Reddish brown colored stains were observed on his shoes," the detective wrote in the affidavit. "Based on my training and experience, it appeared to be blood.”
Gerald’s hands were also photographed showing bruising and scabs on his knuckles, the affidavit stated. His girlfriend was later interviewed and denied that he was at her house on the nights in question.
James agreed to take a polygraph on April 30, insisting to law enforcement that he was telling the truth, the affidavit stated. James passed with a 99.8 percent certainty that he was being truthful in his statement provided to officials, according to the affidavit.
Both Gerald and James are due in court on May 18. County records show both men are being held under the offense of first degree murder. Fisch is being held under the offense of rendering criminal assistance.
They are all in the custody of the Kittitas County Corrections Center. Candy K. Powers, the attorney listed for Gerald did not respond to telephone calls Wednesday morning. No attorney was listed for James, and James D. Kirkham, the attorney listed for Fisch, also did not respond to a request for comment.
The bail for Gerald was set at $2 million, while the bail for James was set at $15,000 following a May 1 preliminary appearance before the court.
Kyle Rempfer was an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.