A former state prison corrections officer was charged Wednesday with kidnapping and killing a Kennewick woman.
Theresa L. Wiltse, 49, did not appear in court Wednesday because prosecutors were finalizing the documents to charge her. The charges were filed at noon.
She now is being held without bail in the Benton County jail on charges of first-degree murder and kidnapping with aggravating circumstances.
A gun, and ammunition found in Wiltse’s rental car when she tried to collect a $250,000 ransom, were consistent with the ammunition found by Sandra Harris’ body, said court documents.
The documents do not explain how Wiltse knew the Harris family or a possible motive.
Wiltse was a corrections officer at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla for just more than two years, but was let go in September 2010. She had moved to Pasco from Michigan, but recently was living in Connell, according to court records.
Investigators have said she is the only known suspect at this time in Harris’ Nov. 18 disappearance.
The 69-year-old woman’s body was found 48 hours later by a passing motorist on Coffin Road, about two miles east of Interstate 82.
An autopsy Tuesday determined that she died of a gunshot wound. Prosecutor Andy Miller told a judge this week that Harris, an accountant, was shot several times.
The number of wounds was not released, “to protect the integrity of the investigation,” Coroner John Hansens said.
After being abducted from her East 41st Place home Friday morning, she called her husband and told him, “They have me, and they want $250,000,” court documents show.
Randy Harris, owner of Ace Jewelry & Loan in downtown Kennewick, then called police.
Detectives told the kidnapper that the money would be paid and agreed to meet. However, when Wiltse showed up to collect the money, Sandra Harris was not with her.
Wiltse was arrested driving a rental car with California license plates and with blood in the backseat, according to documents.
She claimed that she had helped two men named “Jose” and “Jesus” kidnap Harris, but reportedly refused to give further details, court documents said.
Kennewick Officer Joe Santoy said her “role appears much bigger than she claims,” documents show.
Attorney Sam Swanberg has been appointed to represent Wiltse.
The court has one week to arraign her after charges are filed.