Category Archives: 2017 Homicides

Eighth Tacoma Homicide of 2017 Maria Levy

Maria

77-year old Maria Levy loved the opera. When she worked at opera companies in San Diego and Connecticut. From 2002 to 2012 she was the Executive Administrator at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Opera & Ballet. In 2012 she moved to Tacoma to be closer to her son and two grandsons. She lived with them in her penthouse apartment at 1 St. Helens. Still feeling the call of the opera, she then became the Artistic Administrator of the Tacoma Opera. She was known as someone who always wanted to help people.

Sometime early Monday October 16th, something happened in Maria’s apartment. Maria’s 49-year-old son called police at around 5:30am. Her son claims that he heard his mother screaming in her bedroom and confronted an intruder who had attacked his mother. He could not describe the intruder and his story did not match up with the evidence. There were also indications that her son had tried to clean up some blood. He was wearing a t-shirt with a sweater pulled over it, but had blood stains on the t-shirt. And there was no evidence of anyone entering or leaving the penthouse apartment. Prosecutors allege that her son beat his mother in the head and neck with a broken liquor bottle then strangled her leaving Maria dead in her bedroom while her two grandsons slept in the next room. They further allege that when he realized he couldn’t clean it up, he made up a story of an intruder.

Maria’s son has been arrested and charged with second degree murder. This is the Eighth Tacoma homicide this year. It is also the first Tacoma homicide in which a son murdered his mother since the 2011 murder of Jacqueline Hensler. Every time someone dies in this city this community suffers a loss. When it’s someone like Maria Levy that loss is all the more obvious. My thoughts are with her young grandsons, the rest of her family and her coworkers and friends. Tacoma had the pleasure of Maria’s presence for far too short a time.

As always, the comments section is moderated. It is reserved for those who knew Maria and want to share thoughts or memories of her. Any negative comments are deleted.
– Jack Cameron

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Third Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Audreyanna Newell

20170915_151347From time to time I fail to report a Tacoma homicide. It is never intentional. If a homicide happens in the city of Tacoma, I write about it. But sometimes I miss one due to my own inattention or a lack of media coverage. Audreyanna Newell was a 29 years old. Years ago her she sang Christmas carols with her mother on a airplane flight. More recently she lost her brother and grandmother. Like many people, she turned to drugs to numb the pain. The drugs caused mental problems. As 2017 began Audreyanna was a beautiful young woman with a diagnosed mental illness struggling with drugs and homelessness. She was incredibly vulnerable. Audreyanna was released from a Seattle jail on January 17th.

Two days later she met a 26-year-old man. They bought two six packs of beer at a convenience store in Seattle. They then took the Link Light Rail to Sea-Tac where they got in the man’s car and drove to 5800 block of Marine View Drive in Northeast Tacoma. At around 6:30pm someone reported hearing a gunshot. The next morning a man walking his dog found Audreyanna’s body in a gravel area on Marine View Drive. She’d been shot once in the back of the head.

Some beer and the bag from the convenience store was found near her. Police traced the beer to the convenience store where they obtained video footage of the two. They identified the 26-year-old man and charged him with second degree murder.

Audreyanna’s death was the third Tacoma homicide this year. She is also one of two homicides this year of homeless individuals. Being homeless exposes people to all sorts of potential dangers. Unfortunately one of those dangers is meeting up with violent individuals willing to take advantage of a homeless person’s vulnerability.

The 26-year-old man responsible for Audreyanna’s murder pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 18 years, 4 months in prison. Audreyanna’s mother said to her daughter’s killer, ““I have an idea that you will never be the same again and I hope that this will be the defining moment in your life and that you will rise from this occasion with a new direction and a new purpose for living,” Such kindness and forgiveness is awe inspiring.

I would like to extend a personal apology to the family and friends of Audreyanna Newell for my failure to write about her death sooner. As always the comment section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of the victim who want to share thoughts or memories of Audreyanna. All other comments will be deleted.

– Jack Cameron

Seventh Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Frankie Santos

Sunday afternoon neighbors near the 5600 block of South Lawrence Street called 911 because 58-year-old Frankie Santos was behaving erratically and had a handgun. When police arrived, Frankie was yelling. The three officers told him to drop the handgun. Instead he fired the handgun in their direction. All three officers responded by opening fire on Frankie Santos. Frankie was dead before the paramedics arrived.

Frankie Santos is the seventh Tacoma homicide this year. It is the first police involved shooting in Tacoma this year. The use of lethal force by police officers is always problematic, but when they are dealing with an armed individual firing a gun, their viable options quickly become limited.

I was not able to find much online about Frankie Santos. I could not tell you why he was behaving the way he was or how or why he had a gun in his hand. What I can say is that this final incident of Frankie’s life is not all that Frankie was. In his 58 years of life he had friends and family. He had people he cared about and people who cared about him. If there is one thing I have come to believe in eleven years of covering Tacoma’s homicides, it is that we are not our worst actions. We are much more than that. More to the point, the loss of a life does not just mean the end for Frankie Santos, it means a hole in the lives of the people who knew him.

It is all too easy to look at a police involved shooting of an armed man firing a gun and act as though it were a movie or a television show where the ‘bad guy’ got what was coming to him. The reality is someone’s son is dead. And while I would not condemn anyone for returning fire at someone shooting at them, I also will not pretend that Frankie Santos losing his life has no meaning.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Frankie and want to share remembrances of him. If you knew Frankie and have a photo of him, you would like me to share on this page, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

Fifth Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Kaia Josie Krempl

Kaia Josie Krempl lived a very short, violent life. She was less than five weeks old when her mother died. Police arrived to investigate her death on January 17th. It would later turn out to be a stomach infection. They noticed her newborn twin babies appeared to be sick as well. This was especially true for Kaia.

Kaia arrived at a local hospital in critical condition. She was not just sick. She was severely injured. A CT scan showed a skull fracture with severe brain damage. In addition to her skull, her left shoulder was broken as were a few ribs.

It would be almost two full months before Kaia died from her injuries. Kaia’s brother had also been injured. His injuries were less severe. He recovered. Kaia’s 30-year-old father has pled guilty to her murder and has been sentenced to 23 years in prison. Prosecuting papers indicate he used his phone to do an Internet search on what to do when you’ve beaten your baby.*

Homicides like this are difficult to write about both because of the subject matter and because quite often when someone dies months after the incident, it does not make the news. This particular homicide only seemed to be reported when Kaia’s killer was sentenced.

Kaia Josie Krempl is Tacoma’s fiffth homicide this year. Given that the Summer is almost over, our homicide rate is about half of what it was this time last year. Here is hoping it continues to drop.

My thoughts go out to Kaia’s family. I cannot imagine what they are going through and hope they have a chance to heal.

– Jack Cameron

 

*The answer for anyone who found this page using similar search terms is call 911 for paramedics and police, turn yourself in, and get help.

Fourth Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Manuel Olmos Jr.

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On the evening of February 9th 32-year-old Manuel Olmos Jr. and a friend were at a fast food restaurant in the 2600 block of North Pearl Street. It was just after 8:30pm and they needed a ride. Manuel offered a 19-year-old man and his friends some money for a ride. This led to an argument. The argument got loud. At one point the 19-year-old said, “You want to get shot?” The manager of the restaurant then asked them all to leave. A few minutes later the manager heard gunshots. Manuel was shot in the neck. He died before he could be transported to the hospital.

Manuel Olmos Jr. is the fourth Tacoma homicide this year. Like the first three homicides it is a killing that makes little sense. While any loss of life is going to create a hole in the lives of dozens of people who knew and loved the victim, it seems especially disheartening when an understandable motive is non-existent.

Manuel’s wife, Megan wrote me and shared this about him )along with the photos in this post):
“Manuel is my husband, he has left behind me(wife), his 3 children ages 18(son), 5(Daughter), and 3(son), his parents, 3 brothers, and countless family and friends. Manuel was amazing, just amazing, a family man to the fullest, would do anything for someone in need and his kids were his world. He was so funny, life of the party very infectious smile and laugh. Words cannot express our loss and the holes we have in our hearts, I’m completely torn up over this and his kids have to spend the majority of their lives without him. Its not fair! But our babies will always know how great he was and much that he loved them.”
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It is the policy of TacomaStories not to mention killers by name. However, when the suspect has been identified but not yet arrested, we will mention him in hopes that a reader may have information that leads to the perpetrator’s arrest. 19-year-old Demetrius Jackson has been charged with second-degree murder and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Demetrius Jackson, please contact that Tacoma Police Department at (253) 798-4721.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Manuel and want to share their thoughts or memories of him. This section is moderated and each comment is approved before it shows up on the site. If a friend or loved one has a photo they would like to share of Manuel for this article, please send it to jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

 

First and Second Tacoma Homicides of 2017: Theresa Greenhalgh and Mary Buras

 

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Mary Buras

 

On the night of Wednesday January 4th, 31-year-old Theresa Greenhalgh and 22-year-old Mary Buras were in an upstairs bedroom of a house in the 3700 block of Yakima Ave. near Lincoln Park. A 36-year-old man was doing heroin in the room. The man’s 36-year-old sister and 15-year-old nephew were also in the house. At some point the man began hearing voices and yelling at Theresa. He would later say voices were telling him to kill her. He attacked her with his fists and a framing hammer. When his sister got in the way, he hit her as well. His sister and nephew left the house. The man then proceeded to attack both women, using a hatchet to behead them. His sister and nephew returned to the house the next day. Charging papers state that they helped the man clean up. On the night of the 6th they started a fire in the house in an attempt to cover up the crime. All three have been arrested.

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Theresa Greenhalgh

This is Tacoma’s first two homicides this year. Theresa Greenhalgh leaves behind three children, ages ranging from five-months-old to nine-years-old. It is easy to get caught up in the gruesome details of a crime like this and forget that this is not a movie or television show, but two people who were here in Tacoma on New Year’s Day and have been taken from this world against their will. These murders will echo in the lives of dozens of friends and relatives for years. It is difficult to overstate the damage done on both a personal and community level when crimes like this occur.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew the victims and want to share thoughts or memories of the victims. The comments section moderated and each comment is approved before it is published.

Mary Buras has a CrowdFunding Page to help pay for her cremation.

– Jack Cameron