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Grand Rapids man charged with murder in connection to man found dead in backseat

Devon TaShawn Matthews, 26, was charged with open murder and a felony firearm charge in connection to the death of 69-year-old Richard John Jekel.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids man has been charged with murder after a man was found dead in the backseat of his vehicle earlier this month.

Devon TaShawn Matthews, 26, was charged with open murder and a felony firearm charge in connection to the death of 69-year-old Richard John Jekel.

Jekel was found dead in the 2400 block of Horton Avenue SE on June 6. His death was later ruled a homicide.

On June 6, Matthews had an active stalking warrant. That stemmed from his alleged unwanted contact with a woman who had a personal protection order against him in Wyoming.

According to a probable cause document filed, multiple law enforcement agencies conducted surveillance on Matthews and learned through GPS data that he had been spending a considerable amount of time in the area where the woman was living in Grand Rapids.

Authorities allege Matthews was stalking the woman from an adjacent church parking lot in a 2018 Mazda 3 station wagon. 

When detectives went to arrest him, they say he ran away from his vehicle to a nearby park. 

He was taken into custody just outside a public bathroom, police said. Inside the bathroom, authorities said they found a pistol in the toilet, and Matthews admitted to possessing the firearm. 

Detectives also searched his vehicle and discovered Jekel dead in the rear seat. Grand Rapids Police are investigating the death.

"With that information, the victim was shot to death and we determined the gun the defendant had was the gun that shot and killed the victim," said the prosecuting attorney. 

Matthews is also facing charges related to stalking and three firearm charges.

His criminal history shows he couldn't possess a firearm after being convicted of firearms-weapons charges in 2019 and a stolen motor vehicle charge in 2017.

He appeared in court Tuesday morning. 

At the request of the prosecutor, Judge Nicholas Ayoub raised Matthews' bond from $10,000 to $50,000 cash surety due to a public safety risk. 

Matthews is due back in court next week for a preliminary hearing. 

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