Suspect in woman's strangulation returned to Fort Worth from Mississippi

Posted Friday, Mar. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- In the days after Tammy Marie Bates disappeared in November, Matthew Woychik gave her Mercedes to a stranger he smoked marijuana with at a bus station, an arrest warrant affidavit says.

Then he hopped a Greyhound for New Mexico.

Bates' decomposing body was found Jan. 27, wrapped in a blanket and hidden in the garage of her home in far west Fort Worth.

Within two weeks, police obtained a warrant accusing Woychik, 21, of killing Bates, 43. He was arrested Feb. 11 in Tupelo, Miss.

Woychik is accused of strangling Bates with the ligature that was wrapped around her neck

On Wednesday, he was booked into the Tarrant County Jail after being transported from Mississippi, jail records say. He remained there Thursday with bail set at $50,000.

Relatives told investigators that they last heard from Bates on Nov. 16, when she mentioned that she was letting a man stay at her house in exchange for helping with the bills.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Bates' ex-boyfriend told detectives that he moved out in October but continued to pay rent for Bates on the house in the 9900 block of Lone Eagle Drive, as well as providing her with a 2008 Mercedes-Benz and a cellphone.

In mid-November, the ex-boyfriend told police, his car insurer told him that a claim had been made on the Mercedes. The driver was Woychik, the company told him.

The ex-boyfriend Googled Woychik's name and found two YouTube videos that Woychik uploaded of himself on Nov. 18. They had been made in Bates' house, according to the affidavit, written by homicide Detective E.C. Pate.

Investigators also learned that when friends called Bates' cellphone in late November, a man answered. The man identified himself to one caller as "Matt." He said the phone no longer belonged to Bates and that he didn't know her, the affidavit says.

Investigators discovered that Bates' Mercedes was impounded Nov. 19 after the driver was arrested. When detectives questioned the driver, he gave them this account:

On Nov. 19, he was at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Fort Worth when a man approached and asked if he could get some "weed."

The driver told police that he walked to some apartments, bought $50 worth of marijuana and returned to the bus station. The man paid the driver, and the two smoked together.

Later, the man offered the driver the use of a Mercedes, saying he would call when he got back to Fort Worth.

The driver picked Woychik out of a photo lineup.

"Matthew gave Tammy's car to a complete stranger and did not request any kind of compensation," the affidavit says.

Woychik also let his new acquaintance use his cellphone. That phone, investigators later determined, belonged to Bates.

Days later, and after being arrested driving the Mercedes, the driver received a phone call from a man who he believed was Woychik.

Woychik's court-appointed attorney, Earl Bates, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655

Twitter: @deannaboyd

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