Category Archives: Tacoma Homicides

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

TacomaStories is always free. If you’d like to support our work, you can donate at this link. Thank you.

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

– Jack Cameron

TacomaStories is always free. If you’d like to support our work, you can donate at this link. Thank you.

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

– 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

– 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 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

5th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Terrance Paige

In the early morning hours of February 6, 2021, Terrance Paige was hanging out with his brother and two friends at the Gatekeepers after-hours club in the 3600 block of McKinley Avenue located on the second floor of the building. There were about fifty people inside. At around 2:00am Terrance got into an argument with a 21-year-old man. Terrance’s brother and his friend decided to leave. As they left, Terrance said something to the man and the man pulled out a gun and opened fire. He shot Terrance and three other individuals. Paramedics found Terrance at the bottom of the stairs, performed CPR, but were unable to revive him. Terrance is the fifth Tacoma homicide of 2021.

The man responsible for the shooting was arrested in March of 2021.

After-hours clubs have been a problem in Tacoma for years and a frequent location for homicides. The Gatekeepers Club had been warned repeatedly to shut down as they had no license to operate, but the owner ignored these requests.

I was unable to find out much about Terrance’s life. This is often the case when someone has a common name or a small online presence. This is one of the reasons that the comments section exists and is moderated and reserved for family and friends of Terrance to share thoughts and memories about him.

  • Jack Cameron

4th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Shane Kolowitz

On January 28, 2021, Shane Kolowitz drove his pregnant girlfriend and their friend to meet up with a teen who had offered to sell them acid. When they arrived, the teen pointed a gun at Shane and the two struggled over the gun before Shane drove away. The teen fired two or three shots at the fleeing car. Police believe another gunman also fired shots at the car. When Shane got to the corner of South 27th and Yakima, the teen’s 13-year-old brother opened fire. One bullet hit Shane in the neck. First responders found Shane slumped behind the steering wheel. He’d later die of his wounds at the hospital becoming the fourth Tacoma homicide this year and the third drug related homicide this year. Shane Kolowitz was sixteen years old.

Those responsible for Shane’s death were arrested a short time later.

In Middle School Shane was part of the Hands on Horses program and seemed to have a natural rapport with them. His favorite horse was named Hercules. He had family and friends who cared deeply for him.

It’s impossible to know what sort of life Shane might have had if he had not been murdered. One’s actions when they are teenagers rarely show us what sort of adult one is going to be. His child will grow up having never known his father. There is a GoFundMe set up to pay for the costs of Shane’s funeral and other expenses. You can find it at this link.

As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for friends and family of Shane who want to share thoughts of memories of him.

  • Jack Cameron