Bail was set at $1 million on Wednesday for an Ellensburg man who faces first degree-homicide charges in the death of Stephanie Curtis of Toppenish.

Curtis, 34, was found at 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 7, four miles south of Ellensburg along state Route 821 in the canyon. Investigation by the Kittitas County Sheriff’s office revealed that Curtis had been shot twice.

Christopher Almaral, 24, was booked into the Kittitas County jail early Wednesday morning and faces a first-degree homicide charge.

Investigators tracked security footage from several businesses in Kittitas County that put the victim and suspect together the night before her body was found. Security footage also provided a vehicle description and time they left a casino together with another individual from Ellensburg.

After searching hours of traffic video, investigators were able to identify the same vehicle entering, leaving and re-entering Ellensburg in the early morning hours, between the time the victim and suspect left Toppenish and the time her body was found. The victim was killed where she was found, Undersheriff Clay Myers said.

Detectives interviewed Almaral, who confessed to shooting Curtis, according to a probable cause statement. Investigators also tracked alleged gang activity by Almaral, who told detectives he thought the victim was sent by a rival gang, the probable cause statement said.

Almaral made his first appearance in Kittitas County Superior Court on Thursday, and bail was set at $20 million. An arraignment is set for Jan. 29.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information. Bail was $1 million.


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