FALLON - A Las Vegas man booked into the Churchill County Jail on Nov. 20 for allegedly leading the Nevada Highway Patrol on a high-speed chase was charged by Washington state authorities with first-degree murder and robbery late Tuesday afternoon.
Detectives from the Mason County, Wash., sheriff's office charged Michael Robert Wells with the homicide of Margaret Mitchell, 47, of Allyn, Wash., whose body was found in her home Thanksgiving Day.
Mason County Sheriff's Inspector Dean Byrd said Wells, 46, had allegedly used the victim's credit card and was driving her Chevrolet van when he was arrested by Nevada Highway Patrol troopers following a pursuit from Fallon to Schurz.
The NHP reported the van was traveling 58 mph in a 30 mph zone on U.S. 95 and failed to stop when a trooper tried to pull it over.
Wells allegedly took off southbound, reaching speeds of 95 mph before the van was surrounded by NHP troopers and Walker River Tribal police in Schurz.
Wells was booked into the Churchill County Jail on suspicion of open container, reckless driving, use or possession of a dangerous drug, driving with a suspended or revoked driver's license, failure to stop for police, driving under the influence, resisting, obstructing or delaying a peace officer and possession of dangerous drugs without a prescription.
Bail was set at $8,847, and Wells was still in custody four days later when Mitchell's body was discovered in her home. Allyn is about 18 miles south of Bremerton, Wash.
Inspector Byrd said Mitchell died of blunt-force trauma and had been dead several days before she was found.
"On Nov. 24, family members called about suspicious circumstances at the victim's residence," Byrd said. "They had left items at the door on the 20th, which was the victim's birthday, and the items had not been moved."
Deputies found Mitchell's body hidden under a pile of clothing, Byrd said.
During the investigation, Wells was identified as a "person of interest" in the homicide.
Byrd said when detectives began checking police computer records, they learned Wells had been arrested in Nevada.
He said Wells has roots in Las Vegas, but has lived in Washington recently and had a "relationship of some sort" with the victim. Wells also had Mitchell's credit card when he was taken into custody.
"This was one of those situations where we knew they had a relationship, her vehicle's gone, and he's gone," Byrd said about why police wanted to talk to Wells.
Wells will be extradited to Washington on the murder charges. He is being held without bail in the Churchill County Jail in the meantime.