Suspect Jodah Cain, 17, poses in a Facebook photo with a gun and some red drank. His mother said he'd been sent to Portland for a fresh start.
Cain, 17, and Ward, 19, were arrested after leading Oregon state troopers on a high-speed chase on Saturday. After troopers stopped them, they discovered the car was registered to Jacqueline Bell, whose body was found that same morning some 250 miles away.
Authorities believe Ward and Cain killed Bell, then stole her car in order to flee back to Kansas City, where they used to live, according to KSHB. Cain's mother said that her son had gone to live with his great-grandmother, with whom he'd had a loving relationship, to get a fresh start after running into trouble in Missouri. She told that station that Ward may have been a bad influence.
Police know that Bell died of blunt force trauma, but have not yet determined why the boys allegedly killed her. Washington County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Bob Ray told the Oregonian that police had linked the young men to the killing "without the traffic stop involved."
Jodah Cain (left) with his great-grandmother, Jacqueline Bell (right) in a 2010 photo.
KGW reported details that may shed light on the circumstances surrounding the 71-year-old woman's death.
A friend who attended high school with Cain said that the suspect had guests over on Oct. 4 and was planning a large party at the house for Saturday, to be followed by an extended trip out of town.
When someone asked whether Bell would be bothered by the noise, Cain reportedly said, "Don't worry, I'll hit her. I'll knock her out," the friend told KGW.
Students at Sunset High School in Portland were shocked by the accusations against Cain, and described him as a popular student, a nice guy who was "never mean" and played football. According to a separate report by the station, Bell also had a good reputation in her community, and was "well-known in Portland as a generous donor and volunteer at local nonprofit agencies."
Cain was taken into custody by Washington County Juvenile Services, and Ward was held in Union County Jail as a result of the high-speed chase. Ward had also been charged with homicide Tuesday, KPTV reported, but no murder charge had yet been filed against Cain.
A grandmother and aunt of Cain and Ward both told the station that they believe someone else killed Bell, and that the cousins then fled out of shock. Although details in the case are still emerging, the family's devastation is clear.
"I know I'm not going to stand by my son, if he murdered my grandmother," Bell-Gibson told the Oregonian. "She didn't deserve to die like that."