Two arrested in kidnapping, murder of Havana man

Calandra Cooper and Christopher Rumph.
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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
December 14, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Two people have been charged in connection to the kidnapping and murder of a Gadsden County man who was reported missing earlier this week.

38-year-old Christopher Rumph and 32-year-old Calandra Cooper were taken into custody on Thursday. Rumph is currently in the Gadsden County Jail, and Cooper is being held in the Leon County Detention Facility.

They have both been charged with kidnapping and homicide for the death of 27-year-old Kelton D. Washington, of Havana.

A homicide investigation was launched Thursday morning after Washington's body was found not far from Interstate 10, near the intersection of Ben Bostic and Strickland Roads in Gadsden County.

The Tallahassee Police Department was contacted by Washington's family Wednesday night after they received word that he was possibly at the Budget Inn on West Tennessee Street, but they were unable to find him there. Family said they had last seen him in Havana Sunday evening.

Officials say after speaking with the family at the motel, they took a look at the security footage, which showed Washington in the company of a female - later identified as Cooper - paying for a night's stay in a room.

TPD says security footage showed two male subjects approach the door of the room around 6:05 a.m. on Monday and made an apparent attempt at manipulating the door knob before Cooper was seen approaching the door of the room, with the men following behind her.

Officials say footage showed Cooper open the door with a key card and the men immediately rushed inside while Cooper ran towards the northern parking lot. TPD says video shows the men dragging and physically restraining Washington towards the northern parking lot and a dark colored car was observed exiting the parking lot at a high rate of speed.

TPD says they were contacted by Cooper, who voluntarily traveled to TPD for an interview and, initially, lied to authorities about her account of the evening.

According to officials, once Cooper was provided the evidence gathered during the investigation, she became truthful.

TPD says Cooper admitted to having a casual relationship with Washington, as well as a dating relationship with Rumph.

Officials say Cooper confirmed everything police saw in the surveillance video and added that Rumph wanted to enter the room to purchase drugs from Washington, leading to opening the door for him and the other man.

TPD says Cooper said she was not aware of what would happen after she opened the door and told officials she believed the motive for the incident to not be robbery but rather a long-standing disagreement between Washington, Rumph and the other man.

Authorities say Cooper told them she saw Washington be forced from the room, carried across the parking lot into the vehicle and, one in the vehicle, said Washington began fighting to escape and began begging for his life.

According to arrest documents, Cooper told police that she saw Rumph and the other man take jewelry and other valuables from Washington.

Officials say they were informed by Cooper that the car was taken to an area located on Strickland Road in Gadsden County, where Washington was forcibly drug Washington from the car to the wood line.

Police say Cooper told them that she heard yelling for several minutes followed by the sound of multiple gunshots. Cooper then told officials that Rumph and the second man returned to the vehicle without Washington.

TPD says Cooper claimed she never saw a firearm displayed at any point during the incident but did tell authorities that Rumph owned a handgun and kept it on his person.

Officials say Cooper took investigators to the location on Strickland Road where Washington's body was discovered.

TPD’s Violent Crimes Unit is continuing to investigate the incident and believes there are additional suspects involved.

Investigators are asking for anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has information about the case to please call TPD at (850) 891-4200 or if they wish to remain anonymous to call Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS.



 
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