Category Archives: Tacoma Homicides

Sixth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Hector Hernandez-Valdez

On the afternoon of Friday, June 1st, 15-year-old Hector Hernandez-Valdez went over to a 16-year-old acquaintance’s house in the 800 block of E. 52nd. He was two blocks away from his home. Court papers say he went over there to smoke marijuana. While going upstairs, the two of them got into a fight. The older boy had a knife and stabbed Hector in the head. The older boy’s 14-year-old brother heard the fight and joined in, stabbing Hector in the neck with a large nail. The two brothers then moved Hector to a bathtub, slashed his throat, and stabbed him a total of 34 times.

The boys’ mother arrived home while the boys were cleaning up. She found bloodstained towels in her living room. Initially her sons told her they were cleaning up chili, but eventually showed her Hector’s body. The boys’ mother drove to the police station to report the murder. When she and the police arrived, Hector’s body had been moved to inside a recycling bin. The police questioned the boys and then took them into custody. It is likely they will both be tried as adults. Hector had on him $166 and less than 40 grams of pot which was taken by his killers.

This is the sixth homicide in Tacoma this year and the third one with a teenage victim in the past twelve months. As the father of a teenager, these deaths are particularly tragic to me. I’d love to say that back in my day we didn’t do things like that, but the truth is Tacoma’s crime rate for teenagers was worse when I was a teenager in the mid-90s. That doesn’t lessen the tragedy of deaths like Hector’s. These are our children. The last thing in the world they should have to worry about is being murdered.

And all too often, like in this case, the killers are also young. It’s relatively easy to point fingers at society, video games, music, or parents, but the bottom line is this crime was committed by two teenagers who are responsible for their actions and are being held responsible. My heart goes out to all of the families involved.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew and remember Hector. It is moderated by me and no negative comments will be accepted. There are plenty of other places on the web for that unfortunately.

– Jack Cameron

Fifth Tacoma Homicide of 2012 – Stanley Howard

In the early morning hours of Wednesday May 9th, 56-year-old Stanley Howard had an argument with a 46-year-old acquaintance near South 19th and M Street. Later, Stanley went to the man’s house with a knife. The other man also had  a knife and ended up stabbing Stanley in the chest. He was only a few houses away from his last known address.

This was the fifth homicide for the city of Tacoma this year. Police arrested a man in connection with this murder shortly after it happened but after investigating, they’ve chosen not to file charges as it appears he acted in self-defense. The Hilltop neighborhood was once famous for its violent crime but in recent years has become a thriving community full of new shops, bars, and other businesses.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Stanley. I moderate all comments and try to keep things civil. Here’s hoping the next homicide I have to write up isn’t for quite awhile.

–          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Shalisa Hayes, Founder of the Billy Ray Shirley, III Foundation

Billy Ray Shirley, III

Last August Shalisa Hayes lost her son, Billy Ray Shirley, III when he was shot and killed during an after hours party in a warehouse. As of this writing, his murderer has not been caught. It is the only unsolved Tacoma homicide from 2011. He was 17.

Billy Ray wasn’t your typical teenager. By all accounts he was someone who wanted to make a distinct difference in the community. He had a vision and he spent time making that vision happen.

Shalisa didn’t choose to lose her son. But she chose to make sure Billy Ray’s vision lives on in the form of the Billy Ray Shirley, III Foundation.  I contacted her and asked if she’d like to take the time and tell you about her Foundation and her son. Luckily, she accepted the invitation. Here’s Shalisa:

1. What is the Billy Ray Shirley, III Foundation?

A nonprofit business with a vision to build and maintain a fully functional state of the art community center on the east side of Tacoma that gives life to Billy Ray’s vision of having a fun, healthy & safe place for youth to go. This facility shall be one that will provide the programs and resources necessary to engage youth in conversation and activities that will promote positive life choices. We will also look to reinforce education, decrease violence and encourage healthy lifestyles while inspiring individuals to work at continuously building their communities regardless of social or economic boundaries.

2. What is your favorite memory of Billy Ray?

Billy Ray came to me one day and explained that he had noticed a young man at school that always wore holey shoes, so he decided that he wanted to give him a few pair of his own shoes but didn’t know how to approach the young man without embarrassing him or himself. Eventually, the thought of giving

shoes evolved in to giving him both shoes and clothing. I gave Billy Ray a suggestion about how to approach the situation and for whatever reason he decided to do things differently, only to have the young man reject his offer. Later in the week, the two talked and the young man agreed to take Billy Ray

up on his offer. I watched as my son loaded up the car with a few bags of clothes and shoes as he prepared himself to give to his new friend. My heart, mind and spirit will never ever forget the day that I got to meet this young man. Billy Ray was no stranger to doing something for someone else, but I think this story touched me so deeply because I’ve always preached to Billy Ray about how we are no better than anyone else, and no matter how beautiful or expensive the material things we have, they can all be lost or taken in the blink of an eye. So, to watch him take that seriously and rather than be judgmental of someone who may not have had as much as he and turn it in to an opportunity to hopefully make that someone feel good, warms my heart every time I think about it. To make this even more special…….as a teenager, I used to be that young man. I know exactly how it feels to walk around with

holey shoes, so in my mind, Billy Ray was giving to me.

3. What has been the response since you started the Foundation?

Very positive. I have yet to meet a person who lives in or knows the history of Tacoma’s east side and does not agree with the need for what I am trying to accomplish. In the past, the east side has had some facilities and programs that cater to our youth, however in recent times that has changed. Although there are still some programs available, they are very limited and spread out over the area so our youth appear to outnumber these programs. As a result, people from all walks of life have encouraged me to move forward with the idea of making this community center happen.

4. How can people help the Billy Ray Shirley, III Foundation?

We are looking to raise awareness as well as funds to support our cause. We need people who can assist in the following ways:

– Connect with more Tacoma residents (especially the east side) to rally their support. Adults are needed to help guide the project and youth are needed to help determine what’s needed within in the community center, as well as get involved with our various community service activities.

– Utilize individual job skills to help with the project, both with programming for the youth as well as the building or remodeling of a building to be used for a center (ie., architecture, budgeting, commercial building, etc).

– Send a donation. In these tough economic times, government funding is not easy to come by so private funding is also necessary.

– Purchase Team Billy Ray clothing to contribute to the fund. All funds received from clothing purchases will be used for the costs associated with building and/or maintaining the community center. The youth of Team Billy Ray is also involved in a lot of community service and fundraising activities, therefore these funds may also be used to help offset any costs to host these events (ie. facility rentals, group transportation, etc.).

5. What do you see for the future of the Billy Ray Shirley, III Foundation?

Billy Ray was a young philanthropist. I see this foundation growing in to a business that will continue that practice and provide a variety of items to the community. To name a few……. educational scholarships, membership/program scholarships (for patrons of the community center), food and clothing vouchers for the needy, as well as continuously raising funds to help maintain the operation of the community center in order to prevent it from becoming another casualty. The foundation will help support the community center that I envision to be a one stop shop for our youth.

For more information on the Billy Ray Shirley, III Foundation, you can go to their website at  or their Facebook page

I’d like to thank Shalisa for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. As always, if you or anyone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, contact me at

– Jack Cameron

Fourth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Bruce ‘Deymon’ Price

The bars close at 2:00am in Tacoma. A frequent question around last call is ‘Where is the after party?’ Many nights, especially on the weekends, the after party can be found at an empty downtown warehouse. This past weekend, an after party was at a warehouse on South 23rd and Fawcett.

In the early hours of Sunday, April 15th, 40-year-old Bruce ‘Deymon’ Price got into an argument with someone in the alley behind the warehouse. Around 4:30am multiple 911 calls reported shots fired. There are some reports that there was a gunfight. As police responded to the scene, a handful of vehicles were seen leaving. Some people stayed behind and tried to help Deymon, but he was later pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s hospital becoming Tacoma’s fourth homicide of 2012.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Deymon isn’t the only person to die at a warehouse after party in Tacoma. Last August 17-year-old Billy Shirley III was shot and killed outside an after party about a mile away from where Bruce Price was found.

These deaths make it clear that the late night warehouse party scene has become a problem for the City of Tacoma. I’m all for people getting together and having a good time but when gatherings start to have body counts, something needs to be done.

At the time of this writing, the motive for the murder of Deymon Price is unclear and there are no suspect descriptions. As always, the comments section is for those who knew Deymon Price or have something to say about his death. I personally moderate the comments so any hate speak, threats, or other outright offensive comments will not be tolerated. This is a place for friends and family to share their remembrances if they want to.

Hopefully something is done about these warehouse parties and this is the last homicide like this I have to write up.

–          Jack Cameron

A Prayer Walk For South Tacoma Homicide Victims

I was contacted by Pastor Ken Sikes from Manitou Park Presbyterian Church. Tomorrow on Good Friday (April 6th) he is hosting a prayer walk for the victims of homicides over the last five years in South Tacoma. I grew up in South Tacoma on South 40th and Fawcett so I’m partial to neighborhood. Unfortunately,  I’m unable to attend, but I’m certain that many of the people who come to this site might be interested so I thought I’d share the event.

Here’s the list of times and locations. For more about the event or Pastor Ken Sikes, check out his website at:

Stop  Time  Mile             Location                                  Person

1        12:00                    Manitou Park                              Fernando Sandoval  (17)

2        12:20 1                 5004 S. 58th St (top of loop)       Teofilo Knight (28)

3        12:45 2                 5000 S. Tyler                                       Kyle Grinnell (21)

4        1:15   3.25             34th and S. Madison                    Terrance Sand (42)

5        1:45   4.75             S. Union and 45th St.                  Donald M. McCaney (17)

6        2:00   4.85             S. Puget Sound & 45th St.            James Smith (37)

7        2:20   5.25             S. Cedar and 43rd St.                  Dowell Davis Thorn III (20)

8        2:35   5.9               S. Pine and 50th                          Georgia Gunzer (33)

9        2:50   6.25             S. Oakes and 54th                       James A. Guillory (28)

A        3:10   6.6               5400 Steele St.                          Joshua Thomas Gatbunton(20)

B        3:20   7                 Shell Station at 56th Interstate     Julio Segura-McIntosh (3)

C        3:50   8.7               74th & Oakes                              Jonathan Ragland (27)

D       4:10   9.2               72nd & Lawrence                         Laura Anne Carlson (46)

E        4:25   9.4               70th & Puget Sound                     Saul Lucas-Alfonso (25)

F        4:40   9.7               Manitou Trestle (66th & So. Tac Way)

Finish 5:00   10.3             Manitou Park Presbyterian Church

– Jack Cameron

Third Tacoma Homicide of 2012 Noah Walker

On Friday, March 30th, Aleesha Walker called 911 at around seven in the morning. The 28-year-old called to confess that she had murdered her 2-year-old son, Noah. Paramedics and police officers responded to the house in the 3600 block of South Thompson. Noah was taken to Mary Bridge Children’s hospital and pronounced dead. Aleesha was taken into custody.

Tacoma’s third homicide bothers me more than most. I’m of the opinion that no one really deserves to die. However, there are homicides that occur that are at least understandable if not justified. The murder of Noah Walker is the very definition of a senseless killing. A two-year-old child cannot be a threat and at worst can be an annoyance. Noah’s mother should have been the last person he needed to fear.

At TacomaStories, I try to focus on the victim, but it’s difficult to do with one so young. He never got to show Tacoma and the rest of the world what sort of person he could be. He never got the chance that everyone reading this has had. It was stolen from him by his mother. He had two years of life and is gone.

I wish there was more to write but there isn’t.

– Jack Cameron

Second Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Wayne Williams

On March 18 or 19th Wayne Williams entered a room in a house on the 2300 block of Tacoma Avenue South. It was the last place he’d be seen alive. He was 54 years old. He was there with a 27-year-old acquaintance named John Jones who lived with his mother. Jones and Williams did drugs together according to Jones’ statement. On Tuesday March 20th, Jones slept out on the couch rather than in his room. The following day Jones’ mother went into his room after smelling a fowl odor. There she found the body of Wayne Williams. His head and legs had been severed with a handsaw and placed into bags.

Jones has offered various scenarios as to how Williams died. Evidence shows that Wayne tried to fight off his attacked and was eventually strangled to death.

The death of Wayne Williams marks the first homicide in a few weeks for the city of Tacoma. Unfortunately, at this time there isn’t a lot of information about who Wayne Williams was or why he met such a gruesome end. Prosecutors say that the severing of his legs and hands would have taken hours with the handsaw the found in Jones’ room.

As always, if you knew Wayne Williams, the comment section is for you to share your memories of him. I moderate the comments to avoid unwelcome or offensive comments.