A day after a young gay Houston man was buried, police identified his alleged killer and arrested him in North Dakota as he tried to flee across the border into Canada.
Matthew Alan Putterman (photo), 28, has been charged with felony hit and run after he allegedly ran down Michael Alexander Hill, 21, in a Montrose crosswalk after driving through a red light and not stopping on Jan. 8. Border agents arrested Putterman after detaining him and discovering text messages between him and his sister about the accident, according to About Magazine.
Matthew Alan Putterman (28) has been arrested in Pembina County, North Dakota attempting to cross the Canadian boarder. Canadian Boarder Patrol officials detained him, and noticed text messages on Putterman’s phone between him and his sister talking about ways to fix the damaged car.
Official records state that Putterman had attempted to cross into Canada three times, but was acting suspiciously, in the process Canadian officials noticed a small amount of marijuana. Putterman was detained for attempting to smuggle drugs into Canada.
During the process, officials then noticed the text messages from Lana Putterman (sister to Putterman) discussing how to fix damage to his 2006 dark blue Hyundai Sonata with spray paint.
The text messages also discuss how ‘Putterman’ admits he did hit the victim, but did not think he was ’dead.’
Putterman is being held at the Pembina County Jail in North Dakota, according to KTRK.
Late Tuesday a Houston Police Department spokesperson, Jodi Silva, told Project Q Houston that investigators had identified "a person of interest" in the fatality but would not elaborate. A short time later, About Magazine and KTRK reported the arrest.
Hill moved from South Carolina to Houston in early 2015. Friends said he worked as a server at Brennan's and State of Grace to save money for a new car and graduate school. Friends and family contributed nearly $14,000 to a Go Fund Me campaign to help with funeral expenses, exceeding the effort's $12,000 goal.
On Monday, his family celebrated Hill during a graveside service in Camden, S.C., where he grew up.
Alex adored people of every age from the early years of his life. He was a very expressive, fun loving person who adored getting on stage every season for 8 years at Lake Murray Baptist church to perform "A Man Called Jesus." Alex graduated from Lexington High School in 2013. In his high school years and after, he enjoyed discovering Bee Keeping, volunteering at S.C. state offices, cooking amazing dishes to share with friends, and stepping up to care for animals in need. In the last year, he moved to Houston, TX and took up ice skating while working as a Master Waiter in fine dining; he enjoyed serving people. Alex met and developed many friendships in Texas, calling them his "Houston family". This world will be a dimmer place without the love and life of Alex Hill; we were blessed with him for such a brief time.
Friends said Hill was 23; his obituary listed his age as 21.
On Wednesday, Hill's friends in Houston will honor him during a Memorial Fundraiser Show at F Bar.
UPDATE | Putterman was detained, and later arrested, on Jan. 14, according to the Houston Chronicle. He faces a second-degree felony charge of failure to stop and render aid.
According to the criminal complaint against Putterman, the witnesses couldn't give police the license plate number or a description of the driver. They said the car was a dark-colored, four-door vehicle.
On Jan. 14, Canadian border patrol agents stopped a dark blue Hyundai Sonata with damage to the front left side. The driver was Putterman, who was crossing over from North Dakota and "acting suspiciously," according to the criminal complaint.
[image via KTRK]