Category Archives: Tacoma Crime

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

What’s In A Name? (Or When Is A Border Agent Not A Border Agent?)

21055850_10209793927868757_994380700046984243_oEarlier this week, after quite a lot of drama, the environmental activist group Redline Tacoma announced that they would change their name in response to criticism over the term ‘Redline’ which has negative racial connotations. Names are important. One does not want to accidentally offend people. More importantly, one does not want to give off the wrong impression of what the company does…except when one does. The above photo was taken by City Councilman Marty Campbell this morning here in Tacoma. It’s a Dodge Charger with the letter BPS on the door. It clearly states that these letters stand for Border Protective Services.

Contrary to any implication from their name, Border Protective Services does not have anything whatsoever to do with border patrol, immigration, or federal authorities. They are a local private security firm. What’s interesting is if you plug in ‘Border Protective Services Tacoma’ into Google you will not find them. Whether this is due to bad search engine optimization or due to a purposeful attempt to hid who they are is unknown. It actually takes quite a bit of looking to find any information online about them at all, which lends credence to the idea that their hidden digital footprint is purposeful.

A search of Washington State companies shows that Border Protective Services was created February 21st of this year with an address in Spokane. One of the people involved in the company is listed as John Catterson. Catterson’s LinkedIn profile interestingly does not mention BPS. According to his profile he is a former special investigator for the United States Air Force and currently works as an independent contractor, a background investigator for the Spokane Police Department, and a Partner in Triple Lantern LLP. Triple Lantern has a LinkedIn profile, but the link to their official website leads to an empty page. The LinkedIn profile describes Triple Lantern as “Triple Lantern, a veteran owned small business is a full spectrum asset protection company structured to meet the investigative, assessment, education and protection needs of our clients. Founded upon the principle of relevant perspective, we strive to see the world through the eyes of our clients, and more importantly view your company through the eyes of your competitors.” It was founded in 2012.

The other man involved in both BPS and Triple Lantern is Derrick Aalderts. I was not able to find much of anything on Mr. Aalderts. He does not seem to have a LinkedIn or Facebook account under that name.

On ZipRecruiter.com there is a recently expired ad for a ‘Security Officers’ to work in ‘numerous locations throughout Thurston, Pierce, and King Counties starting at $13 an hour or just less than $2.00 an hour more than minimum wage. Requirements include no criminal history ‘that would prevent an applicant from obtaining an Armed Security License’*, two years of work history, a GED or High School diploma, a driver’s license, and an ability to work independently with minimum supervision. The ad also describes Border Protective Services using the exact same words used to describe Triple Lantern.

To put all of this into perspective there is a private security company with no known offices or online presence operating in Tacoma paying their armed employees $13 an hour to work at unspecified areas doing unspecified things wearing uniforms and driving cars that identify them as “Border Protective Services” operating with a bare minimum of supervision in a city that happens to have a for-profit prison that houses over 1,000 illegal immigrants.

Now before I go on there are a couple of other things I should mention. For the most part, private security companies and workers are a vital part of our society. Many of these men and women are highly trained military veterans with extensive exemplary records. I could find no complaints to the Better Business Bureau regarding BPS. I found no online reviews of the company anywhere I looked. As far as I am aware, BPS is a professional company providing professional services. Catterson’s background certainly sounds exactly like the sort of person one would want running a protective services company.

That said, the sketchy contact information, low pay, and deceptive name are significant red flags in my opinion. Like I said at the beginning of this article, names are important. Redline Tacoma recognized that and did something about it. I doubt that Border Protective Services will be changing their name any time soon. Then again, since they lack an online presence, when people go looking for them, they are likely to find this article which clearly states that they have absolutely nothing to do with the United States Government or immigration enforcement.

– Jack Cameron

* Washington State’s Armed Security License requires that you be 21, have a current firearms certificate issued by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, and get a fingerprint and background check.

UPDATE: I was able find the website for Border Protective Services. It does not have much more information than I’ve already shared.

 

Sixth Tacoma Homicide of 2017: Oscar Blackwater

blackwaterHis name was Oscar Blackwater. He was 74 years old. He was one of Tacoma’s homeless population. A friend went looking for him Monday morning. His body was found on a trail in the 3500 block of Pacific Avenue. An autopsy would reveal that he died from blunt force trauma to the head and chest. He was beaten to death on the streets of Tacoma.

Oscar’s death is the sixth homicide in Tacoma this year. His murder is the latest incident in a series of assaults and robberies on Tacoma’s homeless population. One victim stated that he was not only beaten and robbed of valuables but they also stole his pants.

The homeless are among our most vulnerable citizens. Tacoma’s homelessness problem is so significant that the city declared a State of Emergency. New efforts to create more sustainable and safe homeless camps has met with mixed results so far.

At the time of this writing police have no information on the suspect or suspects responsible for Oscar’s murder. Anyone with information on Oscar’s death is asked to contact the Tacoma Police Department.

As always, the comments section is monitored and reserved for those who knew Oscar and want to share memories of him.

UPDATE: CrimeStoppers is offering $1,000 reward to information that leads to the conviction of Oscar’s killer. Anyone with information is urged to call 800-222-TIPS (8477).

UPDATE 2: Oscar’s family is trying to bring his body back home to Arizona. They’ve started a GoFundMe to make this happen. https://www.gofundme.com/bring-home-oscar-blackwater

– 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.

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