Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

A man arrested near Baker City Monday night on charges of stealing two vehicles and attempting to elude police is a suspect in a Walla Walla, Washington, murder investigation, Walla Walla Police said Tuesday.

Colby James Hedman, 23, who Walla Walla police say is a transient, has a last known address of Heppner, according to the Baker County Sheriff’s Office.

Hedman remains in custody today at the Baker County Jail on two counts of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, two counts of second-degree criminal mischief, fleeing or attempting to elude police, reckless driving and failure to perform the duties of a driver involved in an accident.

Hedman was scheduled to be arraigned on those charges Tuesday in Baker County Circuit Court, District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said today.

But because he would not cooperate with the process, a second arraignment is scheduled at 1:15 p.m. today, Shirtcliff said.

The Walla Walla Police Department has identified Hedman as a suspect in the death of Kyle Jordan Martz, 35, of Walla Walla. The two did not know each other, Walla Walla police stated in a press release.

An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of death.

The Walla Walla investigation began about 6 p.m. Monday when police were called to Martz’s home by his roommate, who had reported him missing. Police found Martz’s body on the property.

His Toyota pickup truck, which was reported stolen, was found by Baker County Sheriff’s Office deputies about 10:40 p.m. Monday on Interstate 84, near Baker City, Shirtcliff said.

The officers came upon Hedman on the freeway while responding to a report of theft of a Ford F350 pickup truck belonging to Robert Borders, who lives on Taggert Lane, north of Baker City, Shirtcliff said.

When deputies arrived at the end of Borders’ driveway, they noticed a Toyota pickup parked in the eastbound freeway lanes with the passenger door open, Shirtcliff said.

The pickup truck was identified as the one reported stolen from the Walla Walla homicide victim, he said.

Hedman apparently drove Borders’ Ford pickup back to where the Toyota was parked.

“It looks like he was in the process of changing vehicles,” Shirtcliff said.

When deputies approached Hedman he refused to obey their commands and Hedman failed to follow commands and fled on foot, Sheriff Travis Ash stated in a press release.

Oregon State Police and Baker City Police responded to the area and helped deputies search for Hedman.

He reportedly circled around and returned to Borders’ home where he took a second vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler. One of the deputies noticed the vehicle speeding from the area and followed it on Old Trail Road, Ash said. Hedman left the highway and drove through a fence separating the freeway and Old Trail Road.

Hedman then drove to the freeway on ramp at Chandler Lane crossing at milepost 298, about 5 miles north of Baker City, where he attempted to turn west onto the eastbound travel lanes, Ash said.

Two OSP officers used their patrol cars to intentionally block Hedman’s progress down the highway. The two patrol cars and the Jeep sustained minor damage in the collision, Ash said.

Hedman was taken into custody without further incident. He sustained minor injuries from glass broken in the crash.

Eastbound traffic was rerouted through a short detour during the investigation, which concluded with Hedman’s arrest at 11:10 p.m., Ash said.

“All three police agencies, Oregon State Police, Baker City Police and the Baker County Sheriff’s Office, communicated well and worked effectively together to bring this potentially deadly incident to a peaceful resolution,” Ash stated in the press release.

The investigation is continuing.