Thu. May 23rd, 2024

A Washington man murdered his sister’s boyfriend over the family inheritance and then tried several times to burn the victim’s body, according to reports.

In a probable-cause document filed Oct. 10 by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, 35-year-old Logan Melchert is charged with killing 38-year-old Khalid al-Hassan sometime near the end of July 2023.

According to the document, Al-Hassan was reported missing by his mother on Aug. 8 after she traveled from New Jersey to Vancouver after she hadn’t heard from her son for about two weeks.

Al-Hassan had been living with Melchert and Melchert’s sister in a home on Northwest Overlook Drive. The Melchert sibling’s father Mark had also lived there before he died earlier in 2023.

The document states that Al-Hassan’s mother had been in contact with Melchert’s sister as she spent “weeks” in a Seattle hospital.

When Al-Hassan’s mother asked Melchert where her son was, Melchert told her that he hadn’t seen Al-Hassan for about two weeks.

Meanwhile, on July 27, a fire investigator in Longview reported an arson to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the fire investigator, firefighters had responded to 1085 Oak Point Road on July 26.

The unoccupied property was surrounded by a high privacy fence and contained a shop. Firefighters were forced to cut through the lock on a gate to get inside.

After crews put out the fire, an investigator determined the cause seemed to be a campfire that had spread. They found remans of a burned tent or tarp, a used fire extinguisher and a can of lighter fluid.

According to the investigator, cliffs and heavy blackberry bushes made the property inaccessible by any route other than over the fence or through the gate.

No one was there when firefighters arrived, and neighbors said they did not see anyone there before.

Firefighters did find a sword about 20 feet from the fire origin. Handwritten on it was the name “Logan Melchert.”

One of the names connected to the Longview property was Mark Melchert.

After the Longview arson report, Cowlitz County deputies tried to contact Mark Melchert and Logan Melchert at their listed address in Vancouver on July 31. There was no response.

After Al-Hassan’s mother reported her son missing on Aug. 8, Clark County deputies tried to contact Logan Melchert, Melchert’s sister and Al-Hassan. They too, were unsuccessful.

On Aug. 19 at about 1:30 a.m., Clark County firefighters responded to the Melchert Vancouver home on Northwest Overlook Drive, after the report of a car on fire in a driveway.

When crews arrived, they say a man matching Melchert’s description refused to let them onto the property and threatened to have his two dogs attack them. So instead, firefighters watched as the man put out the car fire with a garden hose. They left once the fire was out.

Then, on Aug. 21, Al-Hassan’s mother again asked the county sheriff’s office for help finding her son.

A deputy visited the Vancouver home on Northwest Overlook Drive. At the house, the deputy saw a burned car behind the fence, and a man he identified as Melchert walking toward the car, carrying a shovel.

The deputy talked with Melchert over the fence, asking him if he’d seen Al-Hassan recently. Melchert said he had – about five to seven days ago, when Al-Hassan had set Melchert’s car on fire and then left.

While they were talking, the deputy said he could smell a “rotting meat” smell and then arrested Melchert on unrelated, outstanding warrants.

Meanwhile, crime investigators were called to the property, and after confirming that a smell of dead body was coming from the burned car, they obtained warrants to search the property, according to the probable-cause document.

The burned car was registered to Melchert’s dead father. Under a tarp in the back seat, investigators say they found severely decomposing human remains.

The next day, the medical examiner’s office determined the person had died long before the car fire.

Melchert had been wearing a backpack when he was arrested on unrelated warrants and investigators now searched what he’d been carrying with him. Inside, they say they found two lighters, butane torches and a can of butane fuel.

Additionally, investigators learned a towing company had been called to move the car from where it had burned on the front driveway to where the deputy found it, behind the fence. They said they were told it was to clear the way into the garage to reach another vehicle. Feeling curious about the job, the tow company said they took photos of the car where it had been. Those photos show unburned items in the back seat, covering where the body would have been.

On another search warrant, investigators searched Melchert’s phone and browsing history. Between July 24 and when the remains were found, Melchert had made such queries as how long it took for a body to decompose and if a fire could destroy strong odors.

According to the probable-cause document, Melchert said he had fought with Al-Hassan, who had asked to borrow a car. Then, he said Al-Hassan had shot and killed himself in the car and then set it on fire.

According to the investigator, this story didn’t line up with the state of decomposition the body had been found in.

Eventually, on Aug. 31, investigators learned about the July 26 Cowlitz County fire and obtained a search warrant for the Longview property.

Investigators say they found a burned or “exploded” Apple Watch near where the fire started. After they found the watch, a search dog found a burned human foot and other bone fragments, according to the document.

The sword with Melchert’s name written on it was turned over to Clark County detectives from Cowlitz County.

Forensics matched the foot to the human remains found in the burned car, and using detail records, the body was identified as Al-Hassan.

Then, on Sept. 28, a Clark County inmate shared a story with investigators that he said he overheard Melchert tell another inmate.

According to the document, the inmate told investigators that Melchert had said his father left everything in his will to Melchert’s sister. Melchert’s sister, however, was suffering from health issues and Melchert feared she would leave the business to Al-Hassan, who Melchert called his brother-in-law. It is unclear what the relationship was legally between Melchert’s sister and Al-Hassan.

According to the inmate, as recorded in the probable-cause document, Melchert said he wasn’t going to let Al-Hassan inherit the business, so he shot Al-Hassan several times in the head with a .22 calabar firearm, which did not kill him. They fought until Melchert put Al-Hassan into a fatal chokehold, the inmate said.

The inmate said Melchert took the body to where he had an incinerator outside of town, on property also under Melchert’s father’s name.

“He started a fire in the incinerator and placed the body into it,” the inmate said, according to the probable-cause document. “An ember flew out of the incinerator and started a fire nearby.”

With firefighters responding to the property, the inmate said Melchert loaded the body back into the car. He stopped at Walmart on his way home, the body still in the car, to buy water and food, parking in the “way back” of the parking lot.

According to the inmate, Melchert planned to finish burning the body for days, but every night, something prevented him.

“The smell was so bad that it just hit him in the face,” the inmate said, according to the probable-cause document.

Based on details the inmate knew of the case that had not been publicly shared, the investigator said in the document that the inmate’s account was reliable.

Eventually, on Oct. 3, cellphone records place Melchert’s phone in the Longview area July 26.

The probable-cause document recommends Melchert be charged with second-degree murder – DV, as well as second-degree arson and unlawful disposal of human remains.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com

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