Witness says she was told that Bauer killed Iverson

Alleged accomplice’s girlfriend testifies at trial

PORT ANGELES — Ryan Warren Ward told a girlfriend that Dennis Marvin Bauer killed homicide victim Darrell Iverson the day after Christmas 2018, the woman said this week in Bauer’s triple-murder trial.

Jessica Topham testified Tuesday in Clallam County Superior Court that she picked up a tearful Ward at R Corner off U.S. Highway 101 east of Port Angeles at about 11 a.m. Dec. 26, 2018. A convenience store is at that location.

It was two to six hours after Iverson, 57; his son, Jordan, 27, and Jordan’s girlfriend, Tiffany May, 26, were shot multiple times outside Darrell Iverson’s 5-acre Bear Meadow Road residence up Deer Park Road.

Bauer, 53, drove up in his Taurus, Topham said. Ward, 40, who is described in court documents as a weapons-toting, 245-pound drug-deal enforcer, got out of Bauer’s car and into Topham’s vehicle.

“He was crying and worried looking, and I asked him what was wrong,” Topham told the jury.

Ward is serving three consecutive life terms without parole after pleading guilty to 16 firearms charges and three counts of first-degree aggravated murder for killing the Iversons and May. Kallie Ann LeTellier is serving 35 years for second-degree murder in May’s death in a plea deal conditioned on her testimony.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jesse Espinoza asked Topham to recount what Ward said while they drove away.

“That they were all dead, and he kept repeating it, and I said who, and he said Darrell, Jordan and Tiffany,” Topham recalled.

“That Tiffany was shot by Kallie, Darrell was shot by Dennis, and Dennis had Ryan go finish Jordan off because Jordan wasn’t dead all the way,” she said. “He snapped Jordan’s neck.”

Topham, a prosecution witness, agreed to testify under a cooperation agreement to avoid stolen property and fugitive-harboring charges related to the murders. She said she was in possession of two guns that Ward gave her that she sold to her stepfather and which were later confiscated by authorities.

Later the same day Topham picked up Ward, she said that, while at her mother’s house in Sequim, she told him he had to turn himself in or leave.

“Ryan said that Dennis wanted him to go back up to Darrell’s place to get the [shell casings] that were left behind,” Topham said.

Topham said she was with Ward when federal marshals, acting on a Shohomish County warrant for unlawful firearm possession, apprehended him at about 1:35 p.m. Jan. 23, 2019, at Lower Elwha Food and Fuel west of Port Angeles.

She watched as they took a hand pistol out of Ward’s gun holster, put him in handcuffs and take him away.

Topham walked 4 miles from the convenience store back to “the ranch” where she was staying with Ward, a sprawling, debris- and vehicle-covered compound on Lower Elwha Road that Bauer rented.

She told Bauer, now charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder and three weapons charges, that Ward had been arrested.

“He shrugged his shoulders,” Topham said. “He didn’t really seem too worried about it.”

Bauer told authorities he was not at the Bear Meadow Road between Christmas and New Year’s and gave an account of his work schedule, according to his interview with investigators. His account was contradicted in his own words in a recorded call from the Kitsap County jail and by his son. His lawyer, Karen Unger, has said he was a bystander during the murders.

Topham said after telling Bauer about Ward’s arrest, she returned to the trailer on his property, where she and Ward were living, and smoked methamphetamine with LeTellier.

“She wanted to tell me what happened and I told her no,” Topham said. “I told her to leave.”

The next day, Topham said she moved back to her mother’s house.

Topham said LeTellier, who was in the Taurus when Topham picked up Ward, had told her Bauer had kept Darrell Iverson’s keys.

Under Unger’s cross-examination, Topham said neither she nor LeTellier, who was living with Bauer, were being held hostage at Bauer’s residence.

Unger said Ward was going to make up a story that Bauer had threatened his family, which was not disputed by Topham.

“Dennis told Ryan that if he told anyone what happened, Ryan was dead,” according to a probable cause statement written by Sheriff’s Detective Jeff Waterhouse.

Ward told authorities he was afraid of Bauer and that he feared Bauer was going to harm his family.

Topham said Ward never told her he was afraid of Bauer or that Bauer threatened to hurt his family.

She said he never acted afraid around anyone.

“He acted like a tough guy half the time,” Topham said.

Ward, serving his sentence at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Grays Harbor County, was subpoenaed to testify in Bauer’s trial against a man he referred to as his uncle, according to testimony.

While on the witness stand, Ward refused to answer questions.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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