Three roommates of a Barron, Wis., man who was found dead this week have been charged with identity theft and obstructing an officer after allegedly using the victim’s debit card and giving false statements to investigators, according to a complaint filed in Barron County Circuit Court.

Levi Mattila, Jesse Scribner and Marcella Hill were charged after investigators began looking for Christopher Etchison, 36, who was reported missing on April 19.

On Tuesday, the Pine County Sheriff’s Office found Etchison’s body in a cabin in Sandstone, Minn., and alerted Barron County investigators.

Authorities learned that Etchison and the three defendants were at a party April 13 at the cabin, where Etchison participated in a drinking contest.

Later that evening, according to the complaint, Scribner and Mattila saw that Etchison was unresponsive and possibly dead and left him at the cabin.

Later that day, the complaint says, Mattila found Etchison’s debit card and used it to buy gas at a Kwik Trip station in Barron.

Investigators went to Etchison’s apartment on April 19 and found Hill and Mattila, who gave them false statements that Scribner also recounted for them a few days later.

Investigators discovered the last transaction on Etchison’s debit card was at the Kwik Trip station and obtained footage from there of both Scribner and Mattila in the vehicle while filling the tank.

Authorities obtained a search warrant and went back to the apartment on Monday. The defendants walked to the police station for questioning, according to the complaint.

All three defendants gave false claims about when they last saw Etchison. After being shown the evidence, Scribner admitted that Mattila had used Etchison’s debit card, and Mattila confessed later, according to the complaint.

Scribner and Mattila are charged with identity theft, a felony that carries a fine of up to $10,000 or nine years in prison, or both.

All three defendants are charged with obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor. Scribner was also charged for breaching his bond agreement in a different case.


David Mullen is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.