Undersheriff: Man fleeing last week likely wasn't Lynden murder suspect

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 2, 2013 

Sheriff's deputies no longer think a man wanted for murder was spotted in Whatcom County last week.

Instead, it seems a passenger bolted from a car during a routine traffic stop Monday, Sept. 23, near the Silver Reef Casino because he has a warrant out of Skagit County, and the driver tried to cover for him, said Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks.

The woman driving identified the man as "Chuco," a nickname for fugitive Salvador Rodriguez. Law officers believe Rodriguez and his brother, Oscar, fled to Mexico in November 2011, after Jesse Winchester was shot and killed during a botched drug rip-off in Lynden. Salvador has been charged with second-degree murder.

Deputies, police dogs and a border helicopter combed muddy cornfields for hours after the traffic stop in search of a man dressed in all black. In the meantime, the woman's story changed again and again. For example, she claimed she said, "Chucho," not "Chuco," according to the sheriff's office.

In the car, deputies found a duffel bag. Several items inside were labeled with a man's name. That name hasn't been released, but it's not Salvador Rodriguez.

Prosecutors will decide if the woman will face a charge of rendering criminal assistance, Parks said. Her name hasn't been released, either.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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