Category Archives: Tacoma Homicides

Fourth Tacoma Homicide of 2013 Chayson Colley-Jones

Chayson Colley-JonesTwo-year-old Chayson Colley-Jones spent his last night in a downtown apartment building on Saturday, March 30th. His mother was going out to celebrate her birthday. Chayson was being watched by his mother’s 19-year-old boyfriend who had moved in five weeks earlier. At 4am Sunday morning someone called the police because they saw the boyfriend with a badly injured Chayson in the lobby of the apartment building.

The police arrived and found Chayson not breathing. His mother’s boyfriend told them that the child had fallen. Chayson was taken to the hospital where he died hours later. His injuries were extensive and extreme. The two-year-old’s blood alcohol level at the time of his death was .12. There was also evidence that he’d been raped. The boyfriend has been arrested and charged for his crimes.

It’s difficult to imagine a worse crime than the death of Chayson Colley-Jones. There is no rational understanding of horrific final hours of Chayson. Murders such as this are often shown as an example of why we must continue to have the death penalty. Here in Washington we still have the death penalty and that did not deter Chayson’s murderer which may be just as powerful an argument against such a practice.

Chayson’s murder is tragic. He was someone who never got to show Tacoma what he could have been. He has been lost to us and the city is a little worse off for it. The only consolation is that the person responsible has been apprehended and that events such as this are rare.

Typically I ask that comments be left strictly for those who have memories to share of Chayson. Sadly, I fear his life was far too short for any comments at all. If friends or family of Chayson are reading this, please share your favorite memories with us. My thoughts are with you.

Rest in peace, Chayson. You are not forgotten.

–          Jack Cameron

Third Tacoma Homicide of 2013 Donald Phily

A little after midnight on Friday March 29th police received phone calls reporting gun shots near South 72nd and Pacific. At the nearby Morgan motel they found 42-year-old Donald Phily dead from gunshot wounds.

At the time of this writing there is still very little information being released to the public. There are probably a couple of reasons for this. One is that in the first few hours of a homicide investigation the police like to keep information quiet because it helps find the person responsible. (If someone has information that the news never reported then they know that person might be valuable to the investigation.)

The other reason that there is very little news coverage of this homicide is that the Morgan is known for frequent criminal activity and while crime in Tacoma is nowhere near the levels that it used to be, someone getting killed on the South Side of Tacoma in a cheap motel room isn’t what some news outlets would call ‘newsworthy’.

I do my best to report every homicide that happens in Tacoma because every death affects friends and family of the victim. They’re all important deaths. If I had the time and the resources, I’d cover more than just homicides.

My heart goes out to the friends and family of Donald Phily and I hope his killer is brought to justice. As always, the comments section is reserved for the victim’s friends and family to share their memories of Donald. These victims of homicides may be gone, but we can preserve the memories of them for others because each of them is a Tacoma Story.

– Jack Cameron

Second Tacoma Homicide of 2013 Sara Barrett

SaraBarrettSara Barrett was putting her life back together. She had three children, all boys. Her youngest just turned twenty-one. She had recently become a grandmother. She was also estranged from her husband of over twenty years. On Wednesday morning she posted on Facebook, Good Morning and Happy Hump day everyone. Today is a good day and will be an even better night :))))’  Before the next morning, 42-year-old Sara Barrett would be found dead in a motel room at the Motel 6 off of South 72nd Street and her estranged husband would be arrested after making a phone call to a local TV station where he confessed to her murder and then leading the police on a chase that ended across the Narrows Bridge.

Sara is the second Tacoma homicide of 2013. Her marriage had been on and off for last few years. In 2007 her husband tried to smother her with a pillow. There were two restraining orders filed during that time but they were denied when Sara didn’t show up for court.

In many ways the death of Sara Barrett is a textbook case of domestic violence. These situations are difficult. It’s easy for some to say she simply needed to get away from her abuser, but he wasn’t just that to her. He was her husband of over twenty years. He was the father of her children. It’s not easy to see that person as a deadly danger. Sara seems to be someone who always saw the best in people. It’s likely one of the things that made people love her. She will be missed.

As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Sara and want to share memories of her. The purpose of writing these articles is so that the people who are taken from us in this city are remembered.

Here’s hoping we can go a long time before I write another one.

–       Jack Cameron

First Tacoma Homicide of 2013: Tyliah Young

Tyliah YoungIt’s been brutally cold lately in Tacoma. The other night I walked from my house to my friend’s without a coat. His place is just four houses away. I was so cold when I got there that I stayed for an hour just to warm up. A little over two miles away on Saturday morning, 23-year-old Tyliah Young was found in an alleyway near S. 12th and Ainsworth. Her body was frozen. There was frozen blood present causing police to believe it was not the elements that killed her. Today the medical examiner released her cause of death as multiple gunshots to the head.

Tyliah was from New York and had talked of going back there where she had family. Friends and family say she was a happy person. She had two young daughters.

Some people will say that a homicide on Tacoma’s Hilltop is nothing new. They will say that it’s an area famous for violent crime. And they’re right about that much. However, Hilltop’s reputation is far worse than the reality. In the years since the gang and crime filled days of the early 1990s, Hilltop has emerged as a better neighborhood full of new businesses and an active community. As a life-long citizen of Tacoma, there was a time when I wouldn’t even drive in Hilltop at night. Now, I feel safe walking those same streets.

Tacoma’s first homicide of 2013 is tragic and here’s hoping it’s one of the few this year. As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family if they want to share thoughts or stories about Tyliah for others to read. I’m sorry for your loss.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for Tyliah’s murder.

–          Jack Cameron

Fourteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Sophia Strickland

A woman called the police from her house in the 3500 block of Fawcett Avenue a little after 9:30pm on Saturday night. She said that her 22-year-old daughter, Sophia had fired multiple gunshots inside the house and may have killed herself. Police responded and tried to talk with Sophia but she would not respond. She had a handgun in her hand and walked down the stairs approaching the officers. One of the officers opened fire, killing her. Sophia Strickland became the 14th Tacoma homicide of 2012.

This is the third Tacoma Police involved shooting this year. As always, the comments section is reserved for friends and family of the victim to share memories of Sophia. Lately, some comments on other posts have been the sort that blame or attack the shooter. This is not the place for that. My purpose in writing about these homicides is to make sure that the memory of those who were taken from Tacoma are remembered and not just mentioned on the news for a day or two and forgotten.

Though we’ll never know what Sophia’s intent was when walking down those stairs, I believe that people are more than whatever their last moments were. My heart goes out to her friends and family.

–          Jack Cameron

Thirteenth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Tristan Dillard

Early Tuesday morning six people in a Honda on Tacoma’s East Side. They’d spent most of the evening drinking and partying. At some point, an argument erupted between two people in the car. Both had guns. Around 1am, shots were fired in the car. The car crashed into a fence in the 6200 block of McKinley Avenue. One woman was injured and 20-year-old Tristan Dillard was dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

At this time the shooter has not been arrested as it is being determined whether or not the shooting was self-defense. Police say that the shooter is being entirely cooperative.

This is the thirteenth Tacoma homicide this year. From the sounds of things, this was a tragic incident that should not have happened. As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew the victim and want to share their memories of him.

– Jack Cameron

Twelfth Tacoma Homicide of 2012: Michael Crawford

Monday night two Lakewood officers were patrolling Gravelly Lake Drive near I-5 in a patrol car when they spotted a stolen vehicle. The vehicle got onto I-5 heading North. The police officers chased the vehicle until it got off on the East Portland Avenue exit. Shortly after that, the police were able to do a maneuver to stop the stolen vehicle. At this time, according to police reports, the man in the car opened fire on them. The officers returned fire hitting 35-year-old Michael Crawford. Last night Michael died from his injuries. No police officers were hurt.

This marks the twelfth Tacoma homicide of 2012 and the second police involved homicide. We’ll likely never know all of the details that led to Michael choosing to open fire on police officers. Especially given recent local history, he had to know that doing so was a no-win situation. My heart goes out to both Michael’s family and the officers involved in the shooting. One of the reasons I include police involved shootings in the homicides I write about is that too often the media defines someone by their final act. Michael Crawford was certainly more than a car thief. As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Michael and want to share their memories with us.

–          Jack Cameron