BATTLE GROUND – Among the large handful of people that knew 36-year-old Battle Ground resident Brandon Maulding, it’s pretty clear that the consensus is that he was a funny, sweet and kind-hearted man.
“He had the biggest heart of anyone I knew and he loved God and all his family and friends fiercely,” said Rebecca Nickels, one of Maulding’s close friends. “He is one of the best people I know. He never deserved to be murdered and I hope justice is served and his murderer gets what he deserves.”
Nickels, who no longer currently lives in the area, described Maulding as never being violent or confrontational “unless someone he loved was getting hurt, then maybe.”
Maulding died late the night of Aug. 1 after he was allegedly beaten to death with a baseball bat by 33-year-old Stephen M. Reichow, also a Battle Ground resident. According to a news release from the city of Battle Ground, Battle Ground Police responded to a disturbance at approximately 11:50 p.m. on Aug. 1 in the area of Southeast Grace Avenue and Southeast 2nd Street, in the 200 block of Southeast Grace Avenue by a storage facility.
After arresting Reichow, officers located a male subject later identified as Maulding on the north side of Southeast 2nd Street, on the south side of the storage facility. According to documents from Clark County Superior Court, Maulding’s head and face were covered in blood, and he was unconscious and breathing. A baseball bat was found less than a foot from Maulding’s head; the bat appeared to have a large amount of blood on it, according to the court documents.
Maulding was transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center where he later died about 12:44 a.m. An autopsy showed Maulding’s death was caused by blunt force injuries to his head, face and body. Reichow is being charged with first-degree murder and made his first appearance in Clark County Superior Court on Aug. 4. His arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 13.
“Brandon was very loved,” Nickels said, while continuing to describe Maulding.
Shawn Winton, of Vancouver, said he didn’t know Maulding for very long, but during the time that he did know him, he never saw anything that resembled aggression.
“I just know that he always seemed happy and upbeat,” Winton said of Maulding. “He had some troubles like everyone else, but he was working on it. I know he loved his family. He talked about his mother, Linda, often. I know that he had a way about him that made people want to laugh and smile.”
Michelle Anderson, Winton’s girlfriend, echoed his sentiments about Maulding, saying he was a compassionate man who loved his son and his parents, especially his mother, very much.
“Brandon was funny and sweet and a hard worker,” Anderson said. “He had an infectious smile. I will miss him.”
Another one of Maulding’s close friends, who did not want his name used, said Maulding loved to hunt and was very excited for this year’s upcoming archery season. He said Maulding has been practicing shooting his bow and was good at it, and also had a broad knowledge of hunting. He described Maulding as a dear friend and said he had a personality and way about him that would “draw you in and make you like him.” He described Maulding’s smile as being able to light up any room and said he was “very entertaining and just an all-around joy to be around.”
Probable cause affidavit
According court documents, which included a probable cause affidavit, when police officers arrived at the scene and found the suspect, Reichow, they found that he had blood on his clothing, hands, face, legs, arms, feet and in his hair. One of the responding officers asked Reichow if he was hurt, to which he responded that he was not hurt, but “Brandon was.” The officer then asked how Maulding was hurt and, according to the documents, Reichow said, “I killed him.”
During an interview with police, Reichow stated that he had been hanging out with Maulding earlier in the day on Aug. 1. According to court documents, Reichow told police that he and Maulding had gone to the river that day and then back to Maulding’s house. He said he and Maulding left Maulding’s residence and were picked up by another friend, Anne Tanninen.
Reichow, Maulding and Tanninen drove to a storage facility that Tanninen rented. According to documents, the three were hanging out inside the facility when Tanninen received a strange phone call from somebody talking about a drug deal. Tanninen then told Reichow and Maulding that she was being “gang stalked.” Reichow told police he then told Tanninen that he had been stalked and harassed for the last six years.
According to court documents, Reichow told police that they were exiting the storage facility out the back door and said that Maulding was in some “kind of altered state.” Reichow said Maulding had been drinking alcohol and began hitting a baseball bat against the heel of his (Maulding’s) foot. Reichow told police Maulding started saying “what’s up boy” and that Maulding and Tanninen started cornering him.
Reichow stated, according to court documents, that Maulding kept saying “hay boy, hay boy” to him. Reichow claimed Tanninen then started accusing him of being part of the people who were stalking her and said Maulding was also accusing him of stalking Tanninen. Reichow told police that he was concerned that Maulding was going to harm him with the baseball bat, so he ran around the building and hid under an RV on the south side of the storage facility.
At that point, according to court documents, Reichow told police that Tanninen and Maulding came around the corner in Tanninen’s white Ford Expedition, and that Maulding came out of the Expedition with a baseball bat and was “coming at me.” Reichow told police Maulding grabbed and ripped his shirt, and Reichow then grabbed the bat away from Maulding by pulling the bat out of his hands and knocking him down. According to court documents, Reichow then invoked his rights at this time and stated, “at this point forward, I’ll need an attorney.”
Anne Tanninen was interviewed by law enforcement officers from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Battle Ground Police Department. According to court documents, she confirmed that she, Maulding and Reichow had gone to the storage facility to drop off some of her things. Tanninen told police that she picked up Reichow and Maulding at Maulding’s residence earlier that day. She stated that when she picked up Reichow, he jumped into the back of her Expedition and jumped onto some of her personal belongings, which made her upset.
According to court documents, Tanninen told police that while at the storage facility she, Maulding and Reichow were talking about government, organized crime and gang stalking. She stated that she then received a phone call from a “Hispanic” subject demanding $5,000. Upon completion of the call, Tanninen, who claimed to believe Reichow was somehow associated with the phone call, confronted him. Tanninen, according to the documents, asked Reichow who he “really was” and for his identification. Maulding, according to Tanninen’s account, participated in the confrontation, asking for his last name and who he was.
According to the court documents, at the time, Maulding was holding an aluminum bat that he retrieved from the storage unit. Tanninen told police that at the time Maulding was playing with the bat in a non-threatening manner. Tanninen stated that Reichow started to talk in a belligerent “scary manner.” She told police she started “talking tough” and referred to a large orange ax handle that was in the storage facility, and she claimed Reichow then “looked scared.”
Tanninen told police, according to the documents, that she told Reichow and Maulding to leave her storage facility, and the two men both left at the same time. Tanninen stated that she left the storage facility, retrieved her vehicle and started to drive away from the area. As she was driving away, she told police she heard the sound of an aluminum bat hitting the gravel. She stated that she then abandoned her vehicle in the parking lot of the storage facility and went to a nearby bar and contacted the owner.
Tanninen stated, according to documents, that she later showed up at the location of the assault and saw the aluminum bat found at the scene where Maulding’s body was found. Tanninen told police this was not the bat Maulding was playing with inside the storage unit. According to documents, Detective Joe Swenson of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office recovered evidence from the south side of 800 SE 2nd St., including a metal baseball bat with reddish stains consistent with blood, apparent bone fragment and other tissue.
According to court documents, the reporting parties called police after they witnessed Reichow on top of Maulding with his hands around Maulding’s neck, choking him. The two reporting parties, who were driving in a car together past the location of the assault, stated that Maulding was not moving and his arms were down at his sides while Reichow was pulling Maulding up and down off the ground. The witnesses saw Reichow walk away and that’s when they called the police.