A man arrested on New Year’s Day, after leading South Dakota authorities on a high-speed pursuit, is now facing a murder charge in Riverside County after officers found the body of his mother in the back of his SUV.
On Tuesday, in a declaration in support of an arrest warrant, it stated Tosten David Walsh-Lommen was interviewed and admitted to choking his mother, 58-year-old Michelle Nanette Walsh. Investigators found evidence of a homicide at her Palm Springs residence at the Escena Country Club, such as bleach stains on the carpet and blood stains. Walsh-Lommen told a detective that he “freaked out and attempted to clean up the crime scene with bleach.”
According to a felony complaint, the crime was committed around Dec. 30, 2017. No word yet on when Walsh-Lommen will be back to Riverside County.
“We are in contact with authorities in South Dakota regarding the defendant’s case there. The outcome of that will determine when extradition proceedings would begin,” said John Hall, public information officer for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Palm Springs Police told KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 that there was sufficient evidence found inside the home on Icon Way to believe that that murder did happen here in Palm Springs.
They said they were familiar with the property and had responded here upwards of six times in the past.
A couple of times for a welfare check, once for a domestic disturbance and at one point had even launched an investigation into an assault and battery, however, the victim in that case refused to cooperate with the investigation, therefore no charges were never brought forward.
On Monday, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley confirmed the death as a homicide investigation.
“Preliminary autopsy results indicate blunt trauma to her head and hemorrhage anterior neck musculature,” Jackley said. “This confirms this is a homicide and will continue to be treated as such.”
The chase began around noon last Monday when a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper saw Walsh-Lommen driving on a freeway at more than 100 mph, triggering a pursuit that ended some 50 miles later, when officers put down a spike strip that disabled the SUV, Jackley’s office said. Walsh-Lommen then allegedly made an unsuccessful attempt to flee on foot.
Walsh-Lommen is being held in lieu of $2.5 million bail in Pennington County, South Dakota, on suspicion of aggravated eluding law enforcement, resisting arrest, DUI, reckless driving and other alleged crimes related to the pursuit.
Palm Springs Sgt. William Hutchinson, Public Information Officer for the Palm Springs Police Department, said last week that officers searched the Icon Way home following Walsh-Lommen’s arrest, but much of the information collected there was “still being sifted through.”
The sergeant also said officers “have responded to that address” previously and “have had contact with (Walsh-Lommen) in the past,” but did not reveal details on those encounters.
A preliminary hearing remains scheduled for Jan. 17 in South Dakota in the pursuit case.
Sgt. William Hutchinson told KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 that there could be a couple of additional charges related to the homicide, but they’re waiting for more information to come back from out of state.