STEVENSON, Wash. — The suspect accused of shooting and stabbing the man found dead at Dougan Falls Bridge over the weekend had planned on marrying the victim, the sheriff’s office said in court Thursday.
Benjamin C. Serrato, 40, was arrested Wednesday on murder charges for the death of Christopher Libert, also 40.
Libert was found dead Saturday near the Dougan Falls Bridge, located about 17 miles north of Washougal. An autopsy confirmed he died of both gunshot and stab wounds.
Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown said Serrato has been cooperating with the investigators by providing details about what happened.
"You know he obviously confirmed for us some of the information we thought probably was true in this case and the fact that he was there. They were there together. And certainly at this point, he's not willing to admit that he did anything to cause this," said Brown.
In Serrato’s court appearance Thursday, sheriff’s deputies said that the two men were in a relationship and at one point, had planned on getting married.
Investigators said they believe Serrato killed Libert after he started seeing a woman. Sheriff Brown says the investigation revealed that Libert led a troubled life.
"Mister Libert essentially he had a lot of issues that he was dealing with," said Brown, "Think being homeless, life didn't work very well for him. And he had made attempts recently to take his own life."
According to court documents, Serrato had recently given Libert an ultimatum: end the relationship with the woman or move out of his apartment.
Investigators believe Libert went with Serrato to Dougan Falls the night of the killing with plans to commit suicide.
When that didn't happen, authorities believe Serrato killed Libert, stabbing him in the neck and chest, and then shooting him twice in the head.
Serrato is being held on $2 million bail.