PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Prosecutors charged a man with first-degree murder Friday in connection with the remains of a woman found at a South Hill construction site nearly two years ago.
Charging papers allege Michael Eugene Beauchamp killed 41-year-old Ginger Gover in a botched attempt to cover up his involvement in a Thurston County arson and burglary case.
Beauchamp, 56, already is in the Pierce County Jail awaiting trial on unrelated charges of rape and unlawful gun possession. He was charged with first-degree burglary and first-degree arson in the Thurston County case, which were later reduced to one count of first-degree malicious mischief, according to court records.
He pleaded not guilty at arraignment Friday. Superior Cout Commissioner Craig Adams set bail at $2 million.
A construction crew found Gover’s remains Sept. 13, 2018 in a hole on a wooded lot they were clearing in the 14000 blocks of 94th Avenue East. The medical examiner determined she was killed by a gunshot would to her pelvis and that her death was a homicide.
Charging papers give this account:
Gover’s father reported her missing July 31, 2018. He said she hadn’t been heard from since two days prior when she called a friend from Spanaway to say she had a flat tire. She was on her way to visit the friend but never made it. Gover also allegedly told her boyfriend that day that something was going on between her and Beauchamp but didn’t say what.
“Ms. Gover’s father reported that his daughter had information about a crime that occurred in Thurston County,” the declaration for determination of probable cause said. “He thought that this could make her a ‘target.’ He further stated that his daughter used to ‘run with a bad crowd,’ however she had been acting as the caretaker for her father, so it was unusual that she had not contacted him.”
About a week later Puyallup police found a stripped dark green Honda. The plates were gone and the VIN number had been removed from the door frame, but investigators determined it was Gover’s vehicle.
Beauchamp allegedly was angry a few days before Gover went missing and told someone he hoped he wouldn’t have to kill her and that he worried Gover was going to tell the police about his role in the burglary and arson case. The owners of the Thurston County home had been on vacation.
In August 2018 he said he was keeping a low profile because he hurt himself working on a trailer.
He allegedly told another witness at some point that a woman in the burglary case, named Ginger, “rolled on him” and that he had to “make her disappear,” the probable cause statement said.
Gover had another car that was seized by Thurston County officers before she went missing.
One witness said Beauchamp overheard Gover talking to a detective when they seized her car, and someone else told detectives “Gover had actually witnessed the defendant set fire to the burglarized house, explaining that after the Thurston County detective contacted Gover she (Gover) said she had made a big mistake and was into something ‘way over her head.’”
Gover asked that witness for a gun three different times.
Another witness said Beauchamp was worried about his DNA being in the home and that Gover said Beauchamp had been talking about “torching” it prior to the fire.
“The witness additionally told detectives that the victim had previously testified against someone in California who had killed someone,” the probable cause statement said. “The witness stated that ‘a lot of people’ thought that the victim was a ‘rat’ because she had testified.”
Beauchamp also allegedly gave a ride to someone in a green Honda near the end of the summer in 2018, telling her the woman who owned the vehicle wouldn’t leave his house and that he thought the only way to get her out of his home was to kill her. Beauchamp had a bandange on his leg and arm, which he said was from a cutting wheel.
There also was someone who saw Beauchamp cutting up a green Honda that he’d been driving around. Beauchamp allegedly asked about getting rid of DNA, and the witness suggested bleach. He also made fun of Beauchamp for wearing gloves in 90-degree weather, and Beauchamp allegedly responded: “capital punishment or capital murder.”
Investigators learned a man who helped Gover with her flat tire the day she disappeared knew Gover through Beauchamp. The man had agreed to give her new tires and rims for her car, because hers were in bad shape. He grabbed one to help Gover with her flat at a gas station where she was stranded and told her the rest were at Beauchamp’s place. Then each drove off.
Investigators later linked location data from Gover’s phone to the area of Beauchamp’s home.
He allegedly told multiple witnesses after Gover disappeared that he hadn’t seen her recently.
The defendant’s girlfriend allegedly said Gover was at Beauchamp’s home the day she disappeared and that Beauchamp said he was trying to fix her car. There were a couple bottles of bleach in the entryway, but the girlfriend said that wasn’t unusual. He’s always cleaning, she said.
Detectives searched Beauchamp’s home and found a tire and rim that matched one on the remains of Gover’s vehicle. It was in the back of a red Honda Civic at Beauchamp’s house, which belonged to the man who helped Gover with her flat tire.
A witness said in late July or early August 2018 he saw two men at the property where Gover’s remains were later found and that he also saw a white van and a dark red or maroon Honda.
Investigators also found blood spattered in a bathroom and the garage at Beauchamp’s home, and blood in a truck there: “However, the victim was excluded as the source of the blood in the vehicle and in the house,” the probable cause statement said.
Charging papers in the unrelated rape case accused Beauchamp of assaulting a woman in 2012 while threatening her with a machete and forcing her to write a note to indicate consent in a failed attempt to avoid arrest.
Investigators allegedly found the note in a lock box when they searched his home in 2018, and he was subsequently charged with first-degree rape. A conviction on that charge would be his third strike under the state’s “three strikes” law, according to court records.
He also was charged with unlawful gun possession after investigators allegedly found a gun when they searched his home. Prior felonies made it illegal for him to have firearms. Later he was also charged with first-degree burglary and firearm theft in that case.
He was convicted of first-degree rape in 1988 and second-degree rape in 1993.
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