Category Archives: Tacoma Homicides

16th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Bud Morgan

In the early morning hours of July 24, 2021 Bud Morgan was in Wright Park. The 32-year-old had left his home finding the walls too confining and wanting desperately to get out, get away, just go. In recent years, Bud had started taking methamphetamines. It wasn’t something he was proud of and he preferred to deal with the addiction on his own. This particular night he ran into two young men. One of them had a gun. There was yelling. One man told the other to shoot. The gunshots woke up nearby neighbors, but it would not be until a couple hours later when a passerby found Bud’s body. Bud Morgan is the sixteenth Tacoma homicide of 2021.

The two men responsible for Bud’s death were caught a few weeks later using surveillance camera footage and images from social media.

Bud was a generous guy. He enjoyed helping people. It wouldn’t be uncommon for him to drop everything and do what he could to help someone in need. It’s easy for some to think that a drug addiction invalidates a person’s humanity, but the truth of it is, that those who turn to drugs are often the ones who care the most, who love the most, and who hurt the most. A person does not escape into drugs unless they have a feeling they want to escape from.

Bud’s death, like that of the woman killed hours earlier, was senseless and done with a callous disregard for the impact a death has on the families and friends of the victims.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Bud and want to share thoughts or memories of him.

– Jack Cameron

15th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Heather Lee Tucker

Shortly before 1:30am on July 24th, 2021, 36-year-old Heather Lee Tucker suddenly crossed the street near the 900 block of North Pearl Street after seeing a man ahead of her. She knew trouble when she saw it. What she didn’t know was that another man was trying to flank her. What exactly happened next is unclear, but moments later there were gunshots and the two men can be seen on surveillance cameras running away. Heather was shot multiple times and became Tacoma’s 15th Tacoma homicide victim of 2021.

An hour and a half later the two men shot and killed another person in Wright Park. Police were able to identify the suspects through surveillance cameras and social media posts and arrested them a few weeks after the crimes. No motive for the crimes is known at this time.

Heather was a talented singer and well loved by her family. She was the sort of person you looked forward to seeing around the holidays. She had that way about her that made whatever room she was in a bit warmer. She is someone who is missed.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Heather to share thoughts or memories of her.

  • Jack

14th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Denise Smith

Denise Smith was working her fifth shift at her new job as a security guard at a building in the 900 block of A Street. In the early morning hours of July 18, 2021, she was watching camera monitors from the lobby when she saw a homeless woman washing herself in the fountain in front of the building. The 41-year-old security guard walked outside to talk to the woman and then returned to the lobby.

Moments later a 26-year-old 6’5” drunk male soldier approached the front door of the building. He had recently lost a bar fight. Denise motioned for him to leave. He didn’t. When she opened the door, the man immediately began beating her. During the next ten minutes Denise fought back, tried to escape, and did everything she could to survive, but her attacker was relentless, dragging her around, stabbing her with her keys, and beating her again and again.

Denise was found just after 6:00am when the security guard arriving for the next shift arrived. Denise was pronounced dead on the scene becoming Tacoma’s 14th Tacoma homicide.

The perpetrator of this crime had no motive, claims not to remember the attack, and has been charged with first degree murder.

Denise is described by family as being a sweet person who largely kept to herself.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Denise and want to share any thoughts or memories of her.

– Jack Cameron

13th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Leroy Nevarro

In the early morning hours of July 18, 2021 neighbors in the 5600 block of Pacific Avenue heard gunshots. Police arrived around 3:00am to find 39-year-old Leroy Navarro shot in the torso. Leroy was transferred to an area hospital where he later died of his wound becoming the thirteenth Tacoma homicide this year.

Despite this homicide occurring almost a year and a half ago, detectives have released little other information and have announced no leads on this case.

I was unable to find much online about Leroy. These sorts of homicides are haunting. They get little mention in the press and are quickly forgotten by everyone but those who knew the victim, those investigating the case, and the person responsible for the crime. It’s all too easy to just see it as another shooting while ignoring the fact that every death is like a meteor strike to every life the victim touched.

As always the comments section is reserved for those who knew Leroy and want to share their thoughts and memories of him.

If you knew Leroy and have a photo you’d like to share for this article, please email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

12th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Victor Martin Lee Davis

Just before 5pm on July 8, 2021, Victor Martin Lee Davis was leaving a friend’s apartment in the 700 block of Commerce Street. The 44-year-old was going to get some food when a 32-year-old acquaintance saw and recognized him and asked where his money was at. The acquaintance had loaned Victor $500 for a scooter weeks earlier. The two got into an argument that soon turned into a physical altercation in which the 32-year-old stabbed him in the side. The 32-year-old then ran to a friend’s place and asked him to hide the knife.

Passersby tried to assist Victor and first responders were called. Victor was transported to the hospital where he later died becoming the 12th Tacoma homicide of 2021.

As is often the case with individuals with common names or a low online presence, I was unable to find much information on Victor. This is why the comments section is moderated and reserved for family and friends who want to share thoughts and memories of him.

If you knew Victor and have a photo of Victor you’d like me to include in this article, please email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack

11th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Milton Slaughter

There was a party in the 7600 block of South Tacoma Way on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Thirty-two-year-old Milton Slaughter was among the partygoers. Around 3:30am gunshots were heard shortly after a group of bikers arrived. First responders arrived a few minutes later and found a thirty-year-old man and Milton Slaughter dead at the scene. Milton Slaughter is the eleventh Tacoma homicide of 2021.

Despite occurring over a year ago, there remains little information about the incident and no one has been arrested for the crime.

Milton was from Richmond, Virginia originally. His friends called him ‘Boo’. I wasn’t able to find out a lot of information about him. What I can say is that like any homicide, the loss creates a hole in the lives of those who knew and loved him. Grief isn’t something that goes away. It’s something people get used to.

As always, the comment section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Milton and want to share information, thoughts, and memories of him.

– Jack

10th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: William Dealavone Jones

There was a party in the 7600 block of South Tacoma Way on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Thirty-year-old William Dealavone Jones was among the partygoers. Around 3:30am on Sunday morning a group of bikers arrived at the party. Shortly after there were gunshots in the parking lot. By the time paramedics arrived, William Dealavone Jones was one of two people dead from gunshot wounds becoming the tenth Tacoma homicide of 2021.

Unfortunately, despite writing this only a year after the incident, there is very little information about these homicides and no one has been arrested for the crimes.

One of the difficulties of writing about homicides when violent crime has dramatically increased is that media reporting of individual incidents are less detailed and sometimes nonexistent.

I was unable to find any real information about William. In cases like this I rely on friends and family of the victim to post memories or thoughts about the victim in the comment section.

If someone has a photo of William you’d like to include in this article please email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack

9th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Tuuaipea Masaniai

On April 22, 2021 Tuuaipea Masaniai was shot in the chest in the 2300 block of 96th Street at around 6:30pm. The 28-year-old man who shot him called for paramedics, but Tuuaipea died at the scene becoming Tacoma’s ninth homicide of 2021.

The details of what led up to the shooting have not been released and there has been almost no media coverage of this homicide. I contacted prosecutors who informed me that they declined to charge the man responsible for Tuuaipea’s death as they determined he was shot in self-defense.

I was unable to find out much information about Tuuaipea. I do my best to write these articles with the victim in mind and to show who they were as a person, but I am limited in that I only have the time and resources to explore what I can find online.  In this case, I didn’t find a large online presence from or about Tuuaipea. When this happens I have to rely on those who knew the person to fill out who they were. This is why the comments section is always reserved for those who knew the victim of the homicide. They can provide detail that I’m unable to give.

If you knew Tuuaipea Masaniai, please comment below or email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com with details of his life you’d like me to include in an updated version of this article.

  • Jack Cameron

8th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Frank Hahn

Sixty-five-year-old Frank Hahn suffered from numerous health issues as a result of his drinking but he couldn’t give it up. On the evening of April 10, 2021 he had two vodka drinks before heading to the bar in the 4000 block of McKinley Avenue. It was Saturday night karaoke at the bar and fairly busy. Frank walked in, ordered a vodka drink, and sat a bar stool next to the karaoke host’s stand. He struck up a conversation with the bartender. At around 11:20pm Frank accidentally dropped some money on the ground. Moments later a 47-year-old man walked in. As Frank bent down to pick up the money, the man patted his pockets and walked towards Frank. Frank smiled at the guy and offered a handshake the man did not accept. The two stood and faced each other before the man backed off and went to his table.

Then a minute later, the man returned. Frank got off his stool and tried to hug the man. The man pushed him back.  Frank dropped his money again. A woman picked it up and tried to hand it back to Frank, but the man tried to grab the money. When Frank pushed the man’s hand away, the man grabbed Frank by the throat and pushed Frank backwards tripping over his stool and falling down a couple of steps. Some people helped Frank back to his feet and he got back on his stool. He sat at the bar for another half hour and then called his caretaker saying he was hurt. When she arrived, she called 911 and was shocked that no one in the bar hadn’t already done so. Frank was taken to Tacoma General where they said he had a concussion and a broken hip. Doctors felt he was not strong enough to survive the surgery he needed as a result of his injuries. He died two days later becoming the eighth Tacoma homicide of 2021.

This is the second Tacoma homicide to take place on McKinley Avenue in 2021.

In October prosecutors decided not to press any charges in the killing of Frank Hahn.

According to people who knew him, Frank was a peaceful guy who enjoyed going to the bar about once a month and playing pull tabs. It’s why he tended to carry cash on him. Frank was a character. He was someone who was fun to be around and people enjoyed his company. He wasn’t someone you forgot about.

As always the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Frank and want to share thoughts or memories of him.

  • Jack Cameron

7th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Mariela Vargas-Brown

It was a nice night on April 6, 2021. On that early spring evening 29-year-old Mariela Vargas-Brown was doing what a lot of people in Tacoma do. She was driving her car on the waterfront road of Ruston Way at around 10:30pm when someone shot at her car hitting her. Her car crashed into a pole. She crawled out of her car and died on the scene becoming the seventh Tacoma homicide this year.

It’s eight months later and this homicide has yet to be solved and the full circumstances of the crime remain unknown. CrimeStoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to her killer’s capture and conviction. Callers can remain anonymous. Read more about that here.

Mari was a phlebotomist. Her job was drawing blood from children. She loved working with children and genuinely enjoyed life. People close to her say that the only thing that makes sense is that she was hit by a stray bullet as she did not have any enemies that they are aware of.

Any time someone is murdered, it impacts those who knew the victim, but it is especially difficult to deal with the grief when the circumstances of their death remain a mystery. Murders like this are often solved by someone who knows something finally giving authorities the piece of information they need to find the person responsible.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Mari and want to share thoughts or memories of her.

  • Jack Cameron