James E. Stidd, 66, appeared in court on Friday, and a judge set bail at $2 million. The judge found probable cause for four felony charges: second-degree murder and four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm.
Detectives reportedly found spattered blood and a hammer covered in blond hair in a garage belonging to James E. Stidd, the Thurston County man suspected of killing a missing Olympia woman.
Stidd, 66, appeared in Thurston County Superior Court on Friday afternoon, and Judge Erik Price set bail at $2 million. Price also found probable cause for four felony charges: second-degree murder and four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm.
“The allegations, to call them horrific, is an understatement,” Price said.
The Washington State Patrol arrested Stidd early Thursday near Ritzville in Eastern Washington — and there is some indication that he may have left the state before he was arrested, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jackson said.
Detectives are still looking for Gail J. Doyle, 60, in multiple places outside of Thurston County. Doyle was reported missing by family members on June 4, and was last seen with Stidd at an Olympia bar on June 2.
Though Doyle is still missing, Jackson said there is enough evidence to charge Stidd in her death.
Doyle’s friends and family members sat in the front row of the courtroom Friday during Stidd’s hearing. Stidd wasn’t in the courtroom, but instead appeared via video conferencing from Thurston County Jail.
Family members didn’t speak, but Terrie Noble of Violent Crime Victim Services read a statement on their behalf. The statement thanked the Olympia community for helping to search for Doyle, and urged people to reach out to their loved ones.
When asked how the family is doing, Noble responded, “Under the circumstances, the best they can.”
A warrant for Stidd’s arrest was issued Wednesday after detectives found evidence at his Longhorn Loop home, south of the Olympia Regional Airport, linking him to Doyle’s disappearance.
When Olympia police officers arrived at the home, they found a note indicating that Stidd had gone on vacation, and that he would be gone for several days hanging on the front door. Inside, officers and crime-scene technicians found several bloody areas on the garage floor, according to court documents. The splatter indicated that a “blood source” had been hit with force.
A hammer was found on a work bench in the garage. The hammer’s head tested positive for blood and was wrapped in several blonde hairs, according to court documents.
Officers also found a pressure washer that had been purchased June 4, two days after Doyle disappeared. Investigators believe the pressure washer was used to clean the garage floor, according to court documents.
The bed of a Chevrolet pickup truck found in the garage also tested positive for blood. Detectives found a receipt for Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center, dated June 4, in the truck. They learned that Stidd had likely dropped off bottles of cleaner and bleach.
Evidence from the home has been sent to the Washington State Patrol crime lab for analysis, according to court documents.
Stidd became a person of interest in the case after detectives learned that he and Doyle had been seen together at Boulevard Tavern in Olympia the night she disappeared. Stidd was contacted by a detective, and said that he had been with Doyle that night, and that they had argued about a criminal case involving Doyle’s son, who allegedly used Stidd’s credit card to purchase several things from a hardware store without Stidd’s permission.
Stidd said he had dropped Doyle off near Aztec Bowling on Martin Way.
Washington State Patrol records show that prior to Thursday, Stidd had been arrested three times in Washington.
In 1971, he was convicted of grand larceny. In 1980, he was convicted in Thurston County Superior Court on a second-degree assault charge after he inflicted “grievous bodily harm” on a woman. Records show he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Stidd was convicted again in Thurston County Superior Court on a fourth-degree assault, domestic violence charge involving his then wife. Stidd’s then-wife said she and Stidd had been arguing about getting a divorce. As she packed her bags, he loaded his rifle.
She said Stidd went outside and fired three rounds, and then told her that if she called anyone, there would be more gunfire, according to court documents. Stidd eventually pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree assault charge, and was sentenced to 70 days in jail, according to State Patrol records.
Stidd is in custody at the Thurston County jail and will be arraigned in Thurston County Superior Court on June 21.