Man, Woman charged with killing St. James man

Lori Amos
The Rolla Daily News

The Phelps County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday that a 20-year-old man and 29-year-old woman had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 36-year-old St. James man, who police found dead from apparent knife wounds in the parking lot of the Economy Inn Motel in St. James.

Around 8:06 a.m. Wednesday, deputies with the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department responded to the Economy Inn Motel in St. James after receiving a report for what police later determined was a homicide, according to the sheriff’s department Thursday.

During the initial investigation, law enforcement found a white male, later identified as 36-year-old Donald Wethy Jr., of St. James, dead from apparent knife wounds in the motel parking lot.

During the investigation, the sheriff’s department said police identified 20-year old Josue Martinez, of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, and 29-year-old Kimberly Riston, of Banning, California, as suspects, and the information was disseminated to law enforcement and the public through the Everbridge notification system.

According to the department, an off-duty Phelps County Corrections Officer and her husband, a Sullivan Police Officer, received the notification while driving on Highway 63. They observed two individuals matching the suspects’ descriptions walking near Highway 63 and Highway 28 in Maries County and reported the incident to law enforcement.

They maintained a visual contact until law enforcement arrived, and Martinez and Riston were arrested and transported to the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department pending warrant applications for murder.

On Thursday, warrants were issued for Martinez and Riston. Both were charged with first-degree murder, two counts of armed criminal action, first-degree robbery and tampering with a motor vehicle.

The Phelps County Sheriff’s Department said both are being held without bond.

The department said an autopsy would be completed to determine the exact cause of the 36-year-old’s death.