Arrest made in Central Kitsap murder

Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office investigators, working around the clock, made two arrests in less than four days in the murder of 20-year-old Zachary “Zack” J. Fitz of Bremerton. Horseback riders discovered Fitz’s body Saturday afternoon on a Central Valley trail.

Fitz, who family members said had been “couch surfing,” had reportedly last been staying in the Poulsbo area. He was last seen Saturday afternoon in the company of another man authorities now believe to be the alleged murderer.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Michael Lloyd Derr, 27, of Bremerton Tuesday night. Derr has been charged with first-degree murder.

Another man was in jail Thursday morning, picked up by detectives. But prosecutors said they were undecided Thursday whether felony charges would be filed against the 45-year-old suspect most recently taken into custody.

Derr was arrested Tuesday at about 11 p.m. at his West Bremerton residence, approximately 80 hours after Fitz’s body was discovered.

Derr was arrested while officers were conducting a search at his residence.

No motive has been determined for the crime. Derr did not resist arrest.

Fitz, known on the street as “Little Fitz,” was listed by detectives as a “transient,” and friends and family members confirmed he did not have a fixed address.

“Autopsy findings released by the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office earlier in the week showed that the victim died of a loss of blood, sometime within 24 hours of the discovery of his body,” Smith said. “He had wounds typically sustained by a sharp instrument.”

Rumors about the murder weapon have swirled around the case since the body was discovered. Knives, scissors and a straight razor have been mentioned by authorities, but Smith and Wilson will only say that the victim was stabbed with a sharp instrument.

Smith also defused rumors that Fitz’s body had been dumped on the Central Valley trail where it was discovered.

“We believe the crime was committed where he was found,” Smith stated.

Less than 90 minutes after the discovery of the corpse, Fitz’s car, a 1989 Ford Bronco, was discovered engulfed in flames near Wildcat Lake.

According to Kitsap County Deputy Scott Wilson, the Bronco has been impounded and is being examined for any possible evidence that might be connected to the homicide.

The goateed Derr was displayed Wednesday afternoon at the courthouse at a probable cause hearing.

Derr, 27, has an extensive record of misdemeanor offenses and one felony arrest: he was charged in March with attempting to elude after fleeing police officers trying to stop him.

His misdemeanor offenses, according to Wilson, included assault in the fourth degree, driving while under the influence of intoxicants, driving while license suspended, and third-degree theft.

The charges stem from 1996 to Wednesday’s arrest.

Derr remains in the Kitsap County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

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