A woman accused of cleaning up a Heights-area home where two men were killed appeared in court for the first time overnight.
Kathy Vu, 23, is charged with tampering with evidence. A judge in probable cause court set her bond at $40,000.
Houston police said an H-E-B receipt from the day of the murders, back in January, helped lead investigators to Vu.
Police said they found bleach and iodine bottles in the back of Vu’s car, and an H-E-B receipt from the day of the murders, showing she bought trash bags, towels, and other items she allegedly used to clean up the crime.
HPD was called to the 1700 block of West TC Jester on Friday, Jan. 27, about a neighbor being concerned that a Toyota Prius was running inside a garage at about 8:30 a.m.
Dana Ryssdal, 35, was found dead at the home, while his roommate, 37-year-old James Martin III, was reported missing along with a white Dodge Ram truck that belonged to Ryssdal.
Three days later, on Jan. 30, that truck was found in southeast Houston, but Martin was not located. It wasn’t until Feb. 1 that Martin’s body was found in the trunk of the Prius at an HPD impound lot, where it was towed for evidence processing. Police said Martin’s body was bound with duct tape and had been shot multiple times.
According to documents, the motive behind the murder appears to be drug-related, as police reported finding “marijuana in various places throughout the residence,” and bundles of cash totaling $35,980 found in the freezer.
A search warrant says Ryssdal and Martin were in the marijuana harvesting business in Oregon, where it’s legal.
New documents state that during an interview with Vu, she admitted to being in a relationship with one of the suspects in the killings — but he is not being named because he hasn’t been charged yet. In fact, no one has been charged with murder as it relates to this case.
She also added that Martin had a history of threatening a lot of people, including her boyfriend. “If anything, because people don’t want to pay him back, if anything were to have happened, it would definitely have been self-defense,” she told authorities.
She told investigators that Martin owed her boyfriend $40,000 “after a narcotics-related transaction did not go as planned.”
Vu said that on the night of the murders, she had a work-related dinner planned and wanted her boyfriend to go with her, but he did not attend “because emergencies happened.” She denied having any knowledge about what happened between her boyfriend and Martin.
However, court documents say Vu was texting and talking with her boyfriend before, during, and after Martin’s murder, and that she helped lure him into the garage before he was killed.
According to authorities, there’s a third suspect wanted in connection with the killings — but his charges are not available.
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