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
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.
At Tacoma Stories, I limit my coverage of homicides to those that occur in the city of Tacoma. If I started to cover murders outside of Tacoma, I’m not sure where that stops. Do I cover all of Pierce County? Do I cover just the significant homicides? As soon as I ask myself that question, it upsets me because they’re all significant. Every homicide victim has family and friends who now have a hole in their lives.
So when seven-year-old Charlie Powell and his brother five-year-old Braden Powell were brutally murdered by their father in Graham, I was a bit torn about weather I should write about it. The murders did not take place in Tacoma. And if I wrote about it, I would feel compelled to write about the next murder that happened in an area surrounding Tacoma. Because otherwise, I’m saying that this homicide is somehow more important than the next and that’s just not something I believe.
In the days that followed these homicides, many questions were asked. How could this have been prevented? Did the judge do the right thing allowing the father to have supervised visitation? Did the social worker do everything she could? Did the 911 operator handle the call correctly? All of these are good questions if they lead to positive changes. They are not good questions if you’re looking for someone to blame because the person to blame is the murderer.
Today in Tacoma, there is a funeral for Charlie and Braden. Hundreds if not thousands are expected to arrive. The vast majority of them will be people who have never met Charlie and Braden or any of their friends or family. Some will be reporters ‘live tweeting’ from the ceremony. KIRO TV has promised live coverage and aerial footage from their helicopter.
At one point a ‘church’ known for its hate claimed that it was going to picket the funeral. I won’t name the organization because what they want is publicity. Others, including the local ‘Occupy’ movement promised a counter-protest. Charlie and Bradon’s family asked that they all not show up and rightly so. None of this is going to make saying goodbye to these children any easier.
I will not be attending the ceremony for the same reason I haven’t attended most funerals; I did not know them. My presence there would not be any sort of comfort to the family and since I technically write about homicides, I could be seen as ‘press’ which would be even worse.
– Jack Cameron
Within the first twenty-four hours of 2012, Tacoma had its first homicide of the year. A month earlier, 25-year-old Michelle Davis had broken up with her boyfriend. Since that time, she’d told friends and relatives that he’d been stalking her. She was afraid enough that she stayed over at her sister’s house on East 84th and D Street on New Year’s Day. Around 11:30pm her ex-boyfriend got into the house and shot Michelle Davis while she slept. Michelle’s sister escaped through a window with a young child. Her sister’s boyfriend was shot eleven times and is currently in the hospital. Her ex then left the house. He was found in the school yard of Larchmont Elementary the next morning with a self inflicted gunshot wound.
Tacoma’s East Side has always had its share of violence, but the truth is that this sort of thing can happen in any neighborhood. I don’t know the particulars of Michelle’s relationship with her ex. I know that volatile relationships are all too common regardless of who you are or where you live. Getting away from the situation is the best thing you can do. From the sounds of things, that’s exactly what Michelle was trying to do.
In Seattle, on Christmas Eve, a school teacher was killed by her violent ex. These domestic homicides are becoming all too common. Sadly, there isn’t a lot to be done about it. Restraining orders won’t stop someone with homicidal urges from killing. They help get them arrested, but that’s about all they do.
Relatives say that Michelle had an eight-year-old daughter, which makes this all the more tragic. As always, the comments section below is reserved for those who knew Michelle and want to post their memories or condolences.
– Jack Cameron
On the evening of Friday, December 16th, 45-year-old Michelle Johnson had been hanging out with an acquaintance on Tacoma’s South Side. At some point, they began to argue. The argument went into the street. Someone in a vehicle passing by saw the argument and thought it was volatile enough to call the non-emergency number for the police. Michelle threw a couple of punches according to some witnesses. The acquaintance then got into a Chevy Tahoe while Michelle walked away. As Michelle was crossing the street on the intersection of South 43rd and J Street, she was hit and killed by the SUV driven by the acquaintance.
This is Tacoma’s fourteenth homicide of 2011 and hopefully its last. It’s also a painful reminder that what starts as a disagreement can become something deadly if the people involved can’t control themselves.
Later that night, Michelle Johnson’s killer was arrested. She admitted to arguing with Michelle. She admitted to being the only car on the street at the time Michelle was struck. She claims that she only drove near Michelle. She’s currently being charged with second degree murder. Due to a lengthy criminal record, she is being held with one million dollar bail.
Typically I don’t post vehicular homicides on this site. This is because often the charges aren’t filed right away and they aren’t normally counted in homicide statistics because they tend to be the result of accidents. However, this was no accident. This was someone using a vehicle to kill a specific person on purpose. That’s not negligence that resulted in the death of someone else. That’s murder.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot to prevent this sort of thing from happening. There are plenty of people out there with unpredictable and volatile tempers. We can’t just lock them all up on general principal. Just remember, what might be an argument to you, might be something else entirely to someone else. Michelle was doing the right thing when she was killed. She was walking away.
As always, if you knew Michelle, please feel free to post your thoughts and memories in the comments section. I will not approve comments of hate. This is not the place for that. These posts are to remember those killed in Tacoma. Here’s hoping I’ll have to write less of them next year.
Last Wednesday night, eight-month-old, Leileah Flowers was crying in her Hilltop home. Her 20-year-old father was playing a video game. According to his statements, when she had cried in the past, he had shaken her a little and she stopped crying. He says he was frustrated with her crying and shook her again. This time it caused her to vomit and her nose began to bleed. He noticed she was having trouble breathing.
Leileah arrived at Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Hospital around 8pm on Wednesday night. The police were contacted three hours later. Leileah lived two more days before dying on December 9th and becoming Tacoma’s 13th homicide of 2011. Her father is being charged with her death.
It would be easy to call Leileah’s father a monster. Go to any given news site about this and you’ll find comments doing exactly that. And to be clear, what he did is monsterous and terrible. I have a personal friend who has a child that was shaken by the child’s father. That child has severe brain trauma and will never lead a normal life. So I have no illusions as to the devestation this tragedy has caused.
However, I also believe that most cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome don’t occur with the intention of killing or even harming the child. It’s a combination of frustration, the loss of one’s temper and the lack of knowledge. This doesn’t make any of this any less tragic. And it doesn’t make the person involved less responsible.
What needs to be said, again and again is that you NEVER SHAKE A BABY. Not ever. My mother is a labor and delivery nurse. I’ve listened to stories of babies all my life. While it might be common knowledge for most, there are still many who simply don’t know or don’t believe in Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Leileah isn’t the first shaken baby to die. Sadly, she won’t be the last. My heart goes out to the family of this child. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. The only good thing that can come out of this is hopefully, there will be young parents who hear about this case and learn that they can never shake a baby.
– Jack Cameron
For more information on Shaken Baby Syndrome, go to: http://dontshake.org/
On Friday night around 8pm, someone living near South 34th & Madison heard a gunshot. Looking out the window, they saw a man on the ground and two men standing over him. The two men walked away, leaving Terrance Sand dead from a single gunshot wound.
Terrance Sand was 42 years old. He’d been living in a boarded up house near where he died. So far there has been very little reported about this shooting. There is currently no description of the two men and their whereabouts are unknown.
A more jaded person might think that the lack of information and the fact that suspects haven’t been caught has something to do with the fact that Terrance Sand was essentially homeless. The truth is that these sort of homicides are among the most difficult to solve. People without homes often have little to no contact with family. Friends tend to no have fixed addresses or other means of contact. Jobs tend to be sporadic. Living off the grid whether by choice or circumstance makes you fairly anonymous.
This killing reminds me of the May 2007 murder of Steven Chennells. Chennells had been found under an overpass and had been homeless for some time.
I’m hoping that more information will come to light in the coming days and weeks. I will update this post when appropriate.
UPDATE: Police have arrested a 28-year-old man in connection with Terrance Sand’s murder. Charging documents indicate that Terrance knocked on a neighbor’s door and was asked to leave. Directly afterward, the suspect, who had been staying at that house, approached him and a fight broke out. Witness statements say the suspect punched Terrance repeatedly and then shot him once, killing him.
If you happened to be someone who knew Terrance Sand and you’d like to talk about what sort of person he was or memories you have of him, please feel free to leave a comment.
One note, I moderate all comments so they will only appear after I have approved them. This is to stop any threats or hate-speak.