A tip from a mobile cleaning service called to remove blood from a dead squirrel inside a vehicle helped lead Delaware County sheriff’s detectives to a Columbus man whom they have charged with killing a West Side woman and burying her body in a shallow grave in Alum Creek State Park.

John David Choe Bartholomew, 24, of the Northwest Side, admitted to detectives that he picked up 28-year-old Brittany McDowell, of the West Side, for paid sex and later used two different firearms to kill her, according to Delaware County court records.

Bartholomew has been charged with murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse in connection with McDowell’s death. Her body was found in a shallow grave in Alum Creek State Park by Ohio Department of Natural Resources Officer Adam Martin on July 4.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Delaware County Municipal Court, Martin noticed drag marks and an area that looked like it had been recently disturbed. Two cadaver dogs assisted in the recovery of McDowell’s nude body.

An autopsy determined that McDowell had two gunshot wounds created by different guns, according to the court records.

Delaware County sheriff’s detectives were still investigating on Monday when they received a tip from an employee of a mobile cleaning service that a cleaner had been asked to tend to the backseat of a vehicle by Bartholomew’s father.

The father said his son had a “dead squirrel in the vehicle which caused the blood stains.” The cleaner became suspicious after the amount of blood found seemed too large for a squirrel.

Detectives met later Monday with the elder Bartholomew, who agreed to have his vehicle searched because he did not believe his son had any involvement with the woman whose body was found in the park.

During an interview with the younger Bartholomew on Tuesday, he told detectives he frequented the Alum Creek Cliffs area and had been there on July 3. He also admitted to “picking up a prostitute in the area of Sullivant Avenue ... on July 3,” according to the affidavit.

Authorities say Bartholomew told detectives the woman got into the front seat of his vehicle and engaged in sexual activity with him. He confirmed that the woman he’d picked up was McDowell after being shown a photo of her.

Bartholomew said that after the activity was concluded, McDowell demand more money than agreed upon. Bartholomew said McDowell told him “she had a taser and she would make a phone call to people that were watching out for her,” the affidavit said.

Batholomew told investigators he reached under his driver’s seat, pulled out a .22-caliber revolver and shot McDowell once in the head, the affirdavit said. “John said Brittany screamed, then continued to slap her arms at him. John stated he then reached underneath the driver’s seat again where he pulled out a 9mm Beretta handgun and discharged one round into the top of her head.”

The court records said McDowell died after the second gunshot wound. Bartholomew then drove to the Alum Creek Cliffs area, took McDowell’s body out of his vehicle and left it there.

Bartholomew said he went back to his home on the Northwest Side, retrieved a shovel and drove back to where he had left McDowell’s body. He dug a shallow grave and placed her face-down inside, court records said. Bartholomew took her clothes in an effort to prevent physical evidence from tying him to the crime.

Bartholomew reportedly told detectives he had picked up prostitutes before and been robbed. He said he had made up the story about the dead squirrel in the car so his father would get it cleaned.

He told detectives he had researched how to clean blood out of a carpet on his phone and purchased hydrogen peroxide in an effort to clean the car himself, but he was unsuccessful. McDowell’s clothing, cellphone and other personal effects were hidden in Bartholomew’s garage, where detectives executing a search warrant found them Tuesday afternoon.

During a court appearance Wednesday morning, a Delaware County judge set Bartholomew’s bond at $1.5 million. His case will next be reviewed by a grand jury for potential indictment.

If eventually convicted of murder, Bartholomew faces the possibility of life in prison.

bbruner@dispatch.com

@bethany_bruner