A Frederick man is behind bars on a murder charge after detectives from West Virginia and Frederick said he admitted to killing a man whose body was found in West Virginia.
Ryan David Bretzfelder, 43, was one of several residents approached by Frederick police detectives on Monday at a home in the 1100 block of Wilcox Court, according to a press release issued early Tuesday. Investigators with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in West Virginia contacted detectives in Frederick after receiving a tip that the slain man, 24-year-old Devon Jamel Wallace, had been at Bretzfelder’s home shortly before his body was found outside of Charles Town, West Virginia, on May 2.
Bretzfelder was identified as a person of interest in the case when Jefferson County detectives learned that a message app on Wallace’s phone was last active on an IP address linked to the Wilcox Court residence, according to charging documents filed in Frederick County District Court.
Under questioning by Frederick police and their counterparts in West Virginia, Bretzfelder eventually admitted to killing Wallace after Wallace and a woman stopped by Bretzfelder’s home on May 1, the documents state.
According to Bretzfelder, he and Wallace fought after Wallace got into a fight with the woman and had been choking her. When Wallace let go of the woman and turned to face Bretzfelder, Bretzfelder said he struck Wallace several times in the head with a grill brush, causing Wallace to fall from the rear deck of the house, according to the documents.
Bretzfelder continued to punch and kick Wallace every time he tried to stand up, according to Bretzfelder’s statements in the charging documents. When Wallace began to lose consciousness and started gurgling, Bretzfelder picked up a large rock and struck Wallace four or five times in the head, killing him.
Wallace’s body was found in a field off the 4300 block of Summit Point Road southwest of Charles Town. The body appeared to have been dragged some distance from the road, likely from a car, and an autopsy later revealed Wallace died from blunt force trauma to the head, according to the charging documents and a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office press release.
After identifying Bretzfelder as the killer, detectives confirmed that he and the woman who arrived at the house with Wallace loaded Wallace’s body into a car, drove to West Virginia and dragged the body to the field, according to the documents. As of Tuesday afternoon, no charges had been filed against the woman named in the documents, but that could change, said Lt. Kirk Henneberry, commander of the Frederick Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.
“We’re definitely aware of her — obviously, she’s in the charging documents — but we’re still in the process of doing a little more work to determine what the appropriate charges might be for her role,” Henneberry said when reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Bretzfelder was charged with first-degree murder and taken to the Frederick County Adult Detention Center, where he remained held without bail after waiving his bail review hearing Tuesday afternoon before Judge Dino E. Flores Jr.
A man who identified himself as Bretzfelder’s father declined to comment on the case when contacted by a News-Post reporter Tuesday afternoon.
Henneberry and Jefferson County Sheriff Pete Dougherty praised the coordination between the different agencies involved in the case, which also included detectives from Fairfax County, Virginia, where Wallace resided.
“The victim resided in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the murder occurred in Frederick city, Maryland, and the body of Mr. Wallace was driven to and disposed in West Virginia,” Dougherty wrote in a press release on the case. “Without strong coordination and cooperation between multiple law enforcement agencies this case may have gone unsolved.”
Police are asking any residents with home surveillance systems in the area of Wilcox Court to call the Frederick Police Department’s non-emergency number, 301-600-2100. Anyone with more information regarding the homicide is asked to call the agency’s tip line, 301-600-8477 (TIPS), send a text message to 240-674-8477 (TIPS) or an email to FPDcrimetip@frederickmdpolice.org. Tipsters may remain anonymous.