Bail was set at $2.5 million for a suspect accused of killing a Thurston County ranch hand and dumping his body in a river.
Kelso resident Jeremy Brian Leininger, 20, appeared Monday in Thurston County Superior Court on one count of first-degree murder. Arraignment was set for Feb. 28.
Leininger was arrested Feb. 10 in connection with the death of Rainier resident Clark Edward Calquhoun, 53.
Court documents give the following account:
Calquhoun was reported missing Dec. 31 by his girlfriend, who had last seen him three days earlier while leaving their home to go to the store. That’s when Leininger approached and asked Calquhoun to feed the cattle and do some work on his uncle’s Yelm-area ranch. Calquhoun did not return home that night.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office conducted an unsuccessful search on the ranch. Detectives contacted Leininger on Jan. 5 and learned the suspect had changed cellphone service providers between Calquhoun’s disappearance and his interview with detectives.
Leininger told detectives he had last seen Calquhoun walking toward the property’s front gate to meet someone. According to Calquhoun’s girlfriend, Leininger told her the same story and said he believed Calquhoun had stolen money and cigarettes from his truck.
Detectives interviewed witnesses from Cowlitz County who said Leininger had previously spoken about a man named Clark who lived on his uncle’s farm and had made threats against his uncle. Leininger apparently told the witnesses he had lured the man into the woods and shot him, then used a truck to drag the body.
Calquhoun’s body was discovered Jan. 29 in the Coweeman River in Cowlitz County. An autopsy revealed that he had been shot at least twice with a .45-caliber handgun, and that his spinal cord had been severed after being stabbed in the back.
Detectives used GPS locations to determine that between Dec. 28-29, Leininger had traveled to his home in the Kelso area and came within 3 miles of where Calquhoun’s body was found.
“This is a calculated and cold-blooded murder,” said Joseph Wheeler, deputy prosecutor, when proposing bail during Monday’s court hearing. “We’re dealing with somebody who’s incredibly dangerous.”
According to his obituary, Calquhoun was born in Pasadena, California, in 1963 and graduated from North Thurston High School in 1982. He had four children and six grandchildren. Calquhoun also is survived by his parents, sister and two brothers.
A memorial service was held Feb. 11 at Littlerock Community Fellowship and included a slideshow of photos from Calquhoun’s life.