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"The larger crimes are apt to be the simpler, for the bigger the crime, the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive.”

~ Arthur Conan Doyle

 
 

 

 

 



Pierce County Prosecutor Crime News:

Olympia Man Charged with Decapitation Murders of Two Women...

From James Lynch
Pierce County Prosecutor's Office
Press Release
January 11, 2017


TACOMA, WA – Today the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Matthew Ryan Leupold, 32,
with two counts of aggravated murder and first degree arson for the brutal deaths of 31-year-old Theresa Greenhalgh and 22-year-old Mary Buras.

Because of the nature of the crime, this is a potential death penalty case.

“Before I make a decision on the death penalty, we will gather as much information as possible about the defendant, the victims, and the surrounding circumstances,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “We always want to make the right decisions for the right reasons.

On January 6, 2017, just before 3 a. m., the Tacoma Fire Department responded to 3714 S. Yakima Ave., in regard to a house fire. The fire was mostly confined to the upstairs bathroom.

After extinguishing the fire, officers went upstairs and found one badly burned body  inside the bathroom, and another body, also badly burned, in the bathtub of that bathroom.

One of the victim’s hands were bound, and both victims had been  decapitated. The badly burned head of one victim was located in the bathroom. The head of the other victim was discovered later, stuffed into a backback, discarded at a different location.

Sources led officers to the defendants, Leupold, his sister, Lindsey Leupold, 36, and  a juvenile defendant identified only as D.L..

Leupold admitted that on January 4, 2017, sometime after dark, he was at the residence where the murders occurred. He said both victims, and D.L., were there as well, Leupold said all of them were in the upstairs bedroom consuming drugs, and at one point Leupold said he became possessed and throughout a period of time he was hearing voices in his head telling him to “kill her.”

Leupold said he then began to assault Greenhalgh by striking her in the head with fists and a framing hammer. Then Leupold said he turned his attention to Buras who was sitting on a nearby bed, and struck her in the head multiple times with the hammer.

Over the next hour or so, Leupold said he dragged both victims into the bathroom where he cut both of their heads off with a utility knife, a pocket knife, and a hatchet. He stated he tied one of the victim’s hands together only after he had decapitated her. However, when asked, he said he believed they were both still alive when he cut their heads off.

Significantly, the medical examiner identified defensive wounds on both victims’ hands consistent with defending themselves from an attack with a sharp, blade-type weapon. Additionally, the medical examiner has given an opinion that forensic evidence supports that one of the victims was indeed alive at the time she was decapitated.

Leupold said after the murders, he stayed behind, but Lindsey Leupold and D.L. left. He said they did not participate in the murders, however, he said Lindsey Leupold came back the next day and helped try to clean up the house. Additionally, he said D.L. came back late the next night and helped try to get rid of evidence and light the house on fire.

Lindsey Leupold is charged with rendering criminal assistance. Her bail is set at $500,000.

The juvenile, D.L., is expected to be charged with arson and rendering criminal assistance. He’s due in court at Remann Hall tomorrow.

Leupold is a convicted felon, recently released from prison. He is being held without bail.

Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 



Prosecutor Finds Deputies’ Use
of Deadly Force Lawful...

From James Lynch
Pierce County Prosecutor's Office
Press Release
January 9, 2017

TACOMA, WA – Independent and concurrent investigations by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office, regarding the shooting death of Justin Christopher Baker, 36, have been completed. Baker died from multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputies David Sutherland, Brian Coburn, Robert Blumenschine, Roger Fuller, and Chad Helligso. Deputies opened fire after Baker advanced on them with a running chainsaw.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist concluded the deputies acted  lawfully. "This is  an unfortunate example of suicide-by-cop,” Prosecutor Lindquist said. “It’s also an example of what methamphetamine can do to a person’s mental and emotional stability.”

In the early morning hours of August 30, 2016, Baker showed up unexpectedly and uninvited at his parents’ residence, wielding a running chainsaw and making various threats to enter the residence, kill himself with the chainsaw, and to attack the deputies when they showed up. The father also reported that he felt Baker was planning to commit “suicide by cop” by making deputies take action against him when they arrived. He also said his son had a history of drug use.

This information was relayed to the responding deputies. They arrived a short time later and confronted Baker while he was holding and revving the chainsaw in a threatening manner toward the deputies. The deputies pointed their duty firearms at Baker while giving him verbal commands to put the chainsaw down on the ground and move away from it. Baker continued to hold the chainsaw out towards the deputies while revving it. One of the deputies fired his taser, hitting Baker, but this failed to stop him. Baker charged the deputies with the running chainsaw, and deputies shot and killed him.

Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark determined that Baker had 27 gunshot wounds, of which several had the potential to be fatal. The postmortem toxicology report indicated Baker had a large quantity of methamphetamine and amphetamines in his system at the time of his death. Dr. Clark stated that the amount of these drugs in Baker’s system was potentially fatal.
 



Pierce County Jail Inmate
Charged with Possession of Methamphetamine Soaked Letters

Press Release
From James Lynch

Pierce County Prosecutor's Office
January 6, 2017

TACOMA, WA – Today the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Rickey Claude Yandell, 49, with one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Letters sent to him in the mail had been soaked in methamphetamine.

“This is a new take on an old problem - smuggling drugs into jail,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

On January 4, 2017, a Pierce County Corrections Officer along with her K9 partner, Rocket, were asked to investigate a letter that had been sent to Yandell while he was in custody at the Pierce County Jail. The letter was addressed to Yandel and was suspicious because of its odd physical appearance. K9 Rocket alerted on the letter addressed to Yandell.

It was one of ten letters placed on the floor. Rocket was then taken to Yandell’s cell and conducted a second search. Yandell’s paperwork was spread on the floor, and Rocket alerted on another letter with two sheets of paper. 1/3 of a page had been torn off. Deputies field tested the pages from both letters and got a positive result for methamphetamine.

This type of crime has become more and more common all over the country as inmates try to get drugs inside jails and prisons via the U.S. Mail.

Bail is set at $50,000.00.

Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt.
 



Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office 2016 Major Accomplishments...
 

From James Lynch
Pierce County Prosecutor's Office
Press Release
December 27, 2016

*The High Priority Offender (HPO) Program focuses resources  on the small  percentage of the criminals who cause a large percentage of the crimes. After a year of preparation, Prosecutor Lindquist formed the HPO Unit in 2016. We are using data, intelligence, and modern technology to identify these high priority offenders.

As of November 1, 487 offenders were activated into the program. These 487 offenders averaged 26 arrests, 10+ felony convictions, and more than three prior trips to prison. The average length of all felony sentences for high priority offenders is nearly three times the state average. Our office is increasing public safety by identifying high priority offenders early in the process and seeking high bail and longer prison sentences. We are also saving taxpayer money on jail costs by sending offenders to the Department of Corrections to serve their sentences.

*The Elder Abuse Unit secured a $370,985 grant from the Department of Justice to support a comprehensive approach to addressing elder abuse in Pierce County. We were one of nine counties in the country to receive this grant because we are a leader in both the prosecution and prevention of elder abuse since Prosecutor Lindquist formed our Elder Abuse Unit in 2011.

The project brings together nine official partner agencies, and includes local law enforcement agencies, service providers, and prosecutors to enable quick responses to victim safety concerns, connect victims to vital services, preserve evidence and apprehend and prosecute the perpetrator where necessary.

*Gang violence is down 60% since 2012. The Gang Unit uses vigorous and innovative methods to reduce gang violence, including conspiracy charges and successful sweeps of particularly violent gang members. Prosecutor Lindquist formed the unit to combat an uptick in gang violence so that Pierce County did not return to the gang violence of the 1990s.

The cases are complex and involve multiple crimes and victims. Through prosecution, as well as intervention and prevention programs with our partners, the Gang Unit has made Tacoma and Pierce County safer for everyone.

*The Human Trafficking Unit is protecting young victims through vigorous prosecution, developing expertise, and collaboration with law enforcement and the community. In 2014, we charged 5 cases. In 2015, we charged 55 human trafficking cases, and are on track to charge nearly the same number in 2016.

In December of 2015, our office worked with law enforcement in an undercover operation called “Net Nanny” which resulted in the arrests of ten people by undercover detectives who posed online as underage girls or parents selling their children for sex. Our office recently secured a conviction against the first of the “Net Nanny” defendants to go to trial.

*The Prosecutor’s Office collaborated with the Tacoma Police Department to reduce  burglaries. For the second year in a row, burglaries have been reduced, with an additional 4.1% reduction from this time last year.

*Our Homicide Cold Case Unit collaborates with multiple local law enforcement agencies in efforts to hold accountable those who could not be brought immediately to justice. Using advances in DNA technology, our office advises law enforcement during investigation and then prosecutes offenders.

This brings justice to the community and the families and friends of victims. For example, our office secured a First Degree Murder conviction in a 1993 case where the victim was stabbed multiple times in her home while two young children slept. Advances in DNA technology identified the perpetrator.

*The Civil Division defends Pierce County against baseless lawsuits which saves the county millions of dollars. While it costs money to defend against meritless lawsuits, it saves money in the long run by discouraging more lawsuits. For example, in 2016 the county won a major victory against a woman who was charged with sex crimes involving children.

She sued for $5 million dollars, but eventually had to drop her lawsuit with no payment from the county as the truth came out through the county’s vigorous defense. Entities that consistently pay nuisance value settlements for baseless lawsuits invite future litigation, while entities that vigorously defend against nuisance value lawsuits discourage future litigation. When lawsuits have merit, the Civil Division negotiates reasonable and fair settlements.

*Mental Health Court has its first graduate November 2016. The diversion program, similar to Drug Court, was created in January 2015 by a team, which included the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The program was created in an effort to address the mental health needs of defendants whose criminal behavior is attributed to their mental health issues.

In order to qualify, there must be a nexus between the  individual’s  mental health illness  and the  crimes(s) s/he committed, and s/he must be amenable to treatment. Current charges cannot include a sex offense, a serious violent offense, a serious bodily injury or use of a firearm. Risk to the community and concern for the victim or future victims is also a consideration. Prior convictions for sex offenses, serious violent offense or crimes resulting in substantial or great bodily injury are disqualified with few exceptions.

A participant must comply with weekly court appearances, contact with the mental health court team, drug and alcohol evaluations and follow-up treatment, random urinalysis, medication monitoring, therapy, law abiding behavior, approved housing and more. A successful participant must be in the program for a minimum of 18 months, graduate through multiple phases and transition away from dependence on the team to an independent, healthy, law-abiding life.

The Family Support Division is on track to collect over $1.3 million in child support from parents who have willfully avoided their child support payments.

Our office continues to monitor the placement of sex offenders into Pierce County from the Department of Corrections and the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, remaining vigilant so that Pierce County does not receive a disproportionate share of offenders, as we did in the past.

 



Graham Man Charged with
Cyber Stalking Ex-Girlfriend...

From James Lynch
Pierce County Prosecutor's Office
Press Release
November 23, 2016

TACOMA, WA – Today the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Michael Andrew Hart, 43, with three counts of felony stalking, four counts of felony violation of a protection order, felony cyberstalking, felony harassment and six counts of disseminating private images.

“Protecting the community includes keeping up with new technology and new forms of harassment,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Virtual actions can hurt real people.”

Hart was convicted in 2014 of attempting to elude, assault in the fourth degree, felony harassment, resisting arrest, and violation of a no contact order. The victim was Hart’s ex-girlfriend. Hart was sentenced last June and a permanent no contact order was put into place.

Hart was released from the Pierce County Jail on December 4, 2015. That same day the victim’s daughters and the victim herself began receiving Facebook messages sent from an account associated with Hart.

On February 13, 2016, a private Facebook Messenger message was sent to the victim from a fake Facebook account associated with Hart. It included sexually explicit photographs of the victim that were taken by Hart when he and the victim were in a relationship. On March 4, 2016, another private Facebook Messenger message was sent by Hart labeled "Karma." This message also included explicit photographs.

The photographs depict the victim unconscious with marker drawings on her face and a dildo inside her. The victim said the pictures were not consensual. The explicit images of her were sent to everyone in her contact list, including her mother, her mother's friends, her aunt and great-aunt, her children, her children's friends and boyfriends, the parents of her children's friends, and her friends from school and work. In addition to the pictures, digital videos of the victim performing sex acts were also sent out to her contacts.

The victim also said Hart assaulted her numerous times and threatened to kill her and people close to her. She said she believed him and lived in fear.

Bail is set at $300,000.00.

Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

 



New Guilty Plea from Man who Fatally Shook Seven-Day-Old Son

from James Lynch
Pierce County Prosecutor's Office
December 21, 2016

TACOMA, WA – Today Joshua Sullivan, 21, pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree for violently shaking his seven-day-old son in 2013. Sullivan pleaded guilty to assault of a child for the shaking crime in 2014. Subsequently, the baby passed away from injuries sustained in the shaking and the murder charge was filed.

“Protecting the vulnerable and holding accountable those who harm the vulnerable is one of our main missions,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

On May 23, 2013, Sullivan was awoken at approximately 3 a.m. by his crying infant son. Sullivan got out of bed to check on his son and became frustrated because the baby kept “fussing.” He shook his son as he carried him up and down the stairs, causing his son’s head to hit the wall.

In the morning, the baby’s mother and Sullivan noticed that both of the baby’s eyes were swollen. They took him to the hospital. The baby had bruises on his face, arms, back and ear. He was also bleeding from his umbilical cord. Medical staff determined that the baby suffered non-accidental head trauma, resulting in severe internal bleeding. He underwent emergency brain surgery.

The victim’s three-year-old sibling said Sullivan got “a mean look” and that “daddy squeezed the baby.”

Sullivan is currently serving a 16 year sentence for the assault charge. That sentence is expected to
be set aside and Sullivan will be re-sentenced on the murder charge March 3, 2017.


 



Tacoma Area Man Sentenced for 2013 Drug Cartel Murder...

from James Lynch
Pierce County Prosecutor's Office
December 16, 2016

TACOMA, WA – Today, William Alvarez Calo, 30, was sentenced to nearly 30.8 years in prison for the murder of Jamie Diaz-Solis. Last month, Alvarez Calo was found guilty of murder in the first degree, burglary in the first degree and attempted robbery in the first degree.

"Our streets are safer with this defendant in prison,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Good work on a big case by deputy prosecutors Maureen Goodman and Doug Hill.”

On November 12, 2012, police responded to a report of shots fired at the Greenwood Apartments in Lakewood. When officers arrived, they found the body of Jamie Diaz-Solis lying at the bottom of the stairs outside his apartment.

Police found almost 38 pounds of methamphetamine and heroin and $37,000.00 in cash in or around the crime scene.

Investigators learned that Diaz-Solis and his roommate, Juan Hidalgo-Mendoza, were part of a major Mexican drug cartel.

Hidalgo-Mendoza told police he was in his bedroom when he heard a male's voice and then heard a gunshot. He said he then jumped out of a window to avoid being shot. He returned to the apartment after the assailants had left and dragged out the body of Diaz-Solis.

In February, 2013, investigators contacted Alvarez Calo who confessed he had arranged for three men to kill Hidalgo-Mendoza. Apparently, Alvarez Calo thought he could climb the ladder of the distribution chain by arranging the murder of Hidalgo-Mendoza, a higher-up, and blaming the murder on another higher-up. The plan went awry when the wrong person, Mr. Diaz-Stolis, was shot and killed by Robinson.

In July, co-defendant Mazzar Robinson, 41, was found guilty of murder in the first degree, conspiracy to commit murder, burglary, attempted robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm. Co-defendant Michael Rowland, 32, was found guilty of murder in the first degree, burglary and attempted robbery.

 



Prosecutor Finds Officers' Use
of Deadly Force Lawful...

from James Lynch
Pierce County Prosecutor's Office
November 22 2016


TACOMA, WA – Independent and concurrent investigations have been completed by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the Lakewood Police Department, the Steilacoom Police Department and the Cooperative Cities/Metro Crime Response Unit regarding the police shooting of Marcos Perea, 41, that resulted in his death.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist concluded the death was justifiable homicide under state law. “To protect themselves and the public, the officers had no option other than deadly force under the circumstances,” said Lindquist. “This shooting by officers was about as clearly justifiable as it gets.”

On February 20, 2016, at approximately 6:12 am, Marcos Perea entered the University Place Care Center at 5520 Bridgeport Way W, University Place, WA. Perea confronted his girlfriend, Jessica Ortega, who was an employee at the care facility. Perea shot Ortega several times with a handgun. Ortega died at the scene.

Perea fled the area in a green Honda southbound toward Lakewood. Officers responding to the shooting spotted a vehicle matching the description of Perea’s vehicle driving at a high rate of speed from the area. While officers pursued the vehicle, Perea pointed and fired a handgun out of the driver’s side window at the pursuing officers.

The officers activated their vehicles’ emergency lights and sirens. Perea refused to yield to the officers’ attempts to stop him and continued driving at a high rate of speed southbound on I-5. During the pursuit Perea fired his gun several more times endangering officers and citizen drivers. One of the bullets, fired by Perea during the pursuit, struck one of the pursuing patrol vehicles.

Perea exited the freeway then got back on to I-5 northbound. Officers eventually stopped Perea’s vehicle with a controlled crash called a PIT maneuver. A short time later, Perea exited and took cover behind his vehicle. Officers gave verbal commands for Perea to surrender. Instead,

Perea took off running and turned and fired several more shots at the officers. Numerous officers returned fire and Perea fell to the ground. While on the ground with his gun still in hand, Perea raised the gun despite the officers’ commands telling him to drop the gun. The officers fired their guns at Perea striking him numerous times. Perea was pronounced dead at the scene.

There is no evidence of criminal negligence, criminal intent, or criminal misconduct on the part of the law enforcement officers involved, and all evidence supports the conclusion that the officers acted in good faith and without malice.
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