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Concrete man wanted in Skagit County homicide

James Kelly, 31, is considered to be armed and dangerous and has been on the run from law enforcement since December.

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Multiple sheriff’s offices in western Washington are searching for a man wanted for murder, burglary and theft.

The suspect, 31-year-old James Kelly of Concrete, is considered armed and dangerous. According to the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, Kelly has been on the run from law enforcement since December of 2023.

Kelly is a suspect in the homicide of 44-year-old Justin Spaeth, who was reported missing around Feb. 28. Spaeth was last seen in the 60000 block of Rockport Cascade Road in Marblemount. Officials do not believe the killing was random, as Kelly and Spaeth knew each other.

The Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office is also searching for Kelly in connection to several burglaries.

Officials believe Kelly is still in the area, specifically in eastern Skagit County. He could be driving a blue 2007 GMC Yukon or a blue 1993 Chrysler Concorde sedan with the license plate BUJ4366.

Anyone with information about Kelly or his whereabouts is urged to call the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. If you see Kelly, officials suggest that you do not approach him.

Monday’s grim update from detectives has the victim’s longtime friend taking time to reflect and grieve.

“He’s a big outdoorsman,” said Joseph Edelman. “We’d go fishing and hiking all the time. He always helped people out, you know?”

Edelman said he has known Spaeth for about 25 years and that they were even roommates in Washington at one point.

“He was always livin’, that’s for sure,” said Spaeth.

He said in some ways, Spaeth helped him turn his life around.

“Justin was one of the people in my life that helped me make a… a good decision,” he said, tearfully. “Ended up meeting my wife, gettin’ straight with the help he gave me, and I’ve been with my wife now 22 years.”

He said he hopes law enforcement officials catch the suspect because currently, he has few answers for why his friend was killed. He’s left to speculate.

“Justin always had toys. That’s another thing. He always had motorcycles, boats, guns, gems, gold, you know… who knows what this guy was after? If that was the case too, or something, you know?” said Edelman.

Edelman also wonders if there could be another motive and whether he “May have been hanging out with some people out there that were into dope, meth, and stuff.”

Edelman added, “There had to have been some kind of beef, and there’s– I mean– there’s just crazy-ass people out there right now.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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