20th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Rikki Lynn Millerup

On the morning of September 6, 2021 a 49-year-old man with severe mental illness entered a gym in the 9700 block of Pacific Avenue. He asked about a membership and then attacked the clerk before leaving. Shortly after that altercation, about a block away he encountered 40-year-old Rikki Lynn Millerup, a homeless woman who stayed in a tent near there. He cut her throat then stabbed her ten more times. The man then stole her wallet and debit card from her backpack. A friend of Rikki’s saw her in her tent that morning but assumed she was passed out until he saw her in the same position hours later and called authorities. She was dead when first responders arrived becoming the twentieth Tacoma homicide of 2021.

Rikki’s killer was found hiding in bushes shortly after.

I was unable to find much information about Rikki Lynn Millerup. This is fairly common when the victim is homeless. People say she was a nice person.  In situations like this I’m forced to rely on thoughts and memories of people who knew the victim to fill in what isn’t available. This is why the comment section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Rikki and want to share the stories of the person they’ve lost.

– Jack Cameron

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

19th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Job Anthony William Irving

It was around midnight on August 26th, 2021 when 30-year-old Job Anthony William Irving and a friend arrived at the Shell gas station on South 15th and Sprague. Shortly afterwards both Job and his friend were both shot. His friend survived his wounds, but Job died on the scene and became Tacoma’s 19th homicide of 2021.

Job spent most of his life in Sacramento, California where his family moved when he was a child. Shortly after graduating high school he joined the Army Reserves. In January of 2020 he reenlisted becoming an active duty soldier and training as a nurse. His training complete, he was statins at Joint Base Lewis McChord in March of 2021. Only five months later he lost his life.

Job had a great sense of humor, an infectious laugh and was known for his big bear hugs. He clearly wanted to serve his country and help people. He lived a life that mattered. He is missed.

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

– Jack Cameron

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

Five Question Friday With Creative Colloquy’s Jackie Fender (Casella)

Hello and welcome again to Five Question Friday. Each Friday we find someone doing something interesting in Tacoma and ask them five questions.

Today’s guest was technically my boss for the past couple of years. I worked as one of her editors at Creative Colloquy. When I decided to bring back Five Question Friday, Jackie was the first person I contacted. She’s not just a founder of Creative Colloquy, but also a good friend and an all around awesome person. And Creative Colloquy is one of my favorite things about Tacoma.

Creative Colloquy is a local literary group that has monthly readings every third Monday of the month. They also maintain a website and regularly publish paperback anthologies, the latest of which, volume 9, is coming out later this year.

Here’s Jackie:

1. How did Creative Colloquy deal with the pandemic?

We were initially hesitant but really leaned into virtual gatherings. The world shut down on the day that would have been our 6 year anniversary celebration. We chose to continue connecting via zoom because it felt as though, especially in the beginning days that people were hungry for connection. During the days of quarantine a break in seclusion was welcome. After a time we introduced workshops to our programming to amplify our offerings and curate opportunities to hone our craft and connect with like minded creatives in a time that many of us weren’t working and may have been afforded the luxury of time to spend with the written word since the world had shut down.We witnessed some valuable connections take place – even if the zoom applause was silent. 

2. What’s the best part about doing in-person readings again?

The collective stillness in the air, a shared chuckle, an in person round of applause, those things are unmatched and cannot be replicated with virtual events. 

3. Besides the website and monthly readings, what else is Creative Colloquy up to?

We’re in the midst of editing and accepting accompanying visual art pieces for our 9th print anthology due to launch this year. We’re also hosting regular writers workshops throughout the year for writers of all genres and experience levels AND hosting a semi regular writer’s social hours called Pens n’ Pies. The idea is to connect as writers and tour local pizza joints. We talk all things writing, life, publishing and more. In October we plan to gather for the Creative Colloquy Crawl, in person, proper crawl like for the first time in 2019. Like past years you can expect community collaborator curated readings, poetry, short stories, music, live art – a true choose your own adventure literary journey. And of course this summer we will be making our rounds with the CC Book Bike Pop Ups at local parks to distribute free books to the masses. This February we’ll be distributing another round of found art with our CC Message in a Bottle series. This time we were inspired by Tacoma Monkeyshines and used the Year of the Water Rabbit as a call for submissions prompt with stories centering around themes of peace, hope and longevity. 

4.  How can people help support Creative Colloquy?

CC is fiscally sponsored by Shunpike and functions as a non profit so tax deductible donations can be made from our website. We also have a Patreon page with fun membership perks. All funds help us keep events accessible, almost always free to the public, plus general admin fees, website hosting, publishing costs, etc. AND of course spreading the word! We are always accepting poetry, short stories, essays and novel excerpts for online publication which results in an invite to appear as a feature reader. Showing up to support our fellow writerly friends and neighbors is the very best support. Writing is a solitary action, making space for community and connection nourishes us in so many ways. 

5. What’s next for Creative Colloquy?

We have some fun things in the works – aside from what we have on the calendar we are really looking forward to expanding our programming to showcase local writer’s more and more. From now to 2024 things we’re building towards include more gatherings centering around a dialogue, a podcast and a summer lit fest we’ve been day dreaming about for ages. We’re always exploring ways to support local storytellers so who knows how things will evolve. 

Thank you to Jackie Fender (Casella) for participating in Five Question Friday. You can find Jackie on Twitter @jacksfender and Creative Colloquy is at https://creativecolloquy.com.

If you think you or someone you know might make a good participant for Five Question Friday let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com.
– Jack Cameron

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

18th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Dalvon Eugene Edwards Shinhoster

I can tell you that Dalvon Eugene Edwards-Shinhoster loved basketball. He played it on the weekends and whenever he could get a chance. He was 39 years old. He graduated from Foss High School, class of 2000. He was the sort of guy who was always willing to take the time to help out those in need. He was a father, a brother, an uncle, and a good friend.

What I can’t tell you is what happened to Dalvon on the morning of August 16, 2021. He was found unresponsive in an apartment parking lot in the TK block of TK at around 9:00am. First responders were called, but he was dead on the scene. His death has been ruled a homicide, but as of this writing over nine months later, police have not released Dalvon’s cause of death, any known circumstances leading up to his death, or any description of a suspect. I cannot tell you how Dalvon became the 18th Tacoma homicide of 2021. I can just tell you that he is missed by those who knew him.

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

-Jack Cameron

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

17th Tacoma Homicide of 2021: Aaron Gentry Mathiason

On the evening of August 8, 2021, 46-year-old Aaron Gentry Mathiason was riding his bicycle along Pacific Avenue near South 72nd Street. A 53-year-old man who claimed Aaron had sold him bad drugs spotted him shortly before 10:00pm. The man returned to his apartment to pick up a switchblade knife. The man returned to Pacific Avenue and caught up with Aaron in a parking lot of a grocery store. The two argued. Aaron got off his bike. The man stabbed him in the chest. Video surveillance shows the man running away. Aaron was taken to a local hospital where he died during surgery. The man who stabbed him was arrested and charged with second degree murder.  Aaron is the 17th Tacoma homicide of 2021.

All too often homicides like these are ignored by most people. It’s all too easy to see it as just another drug murder and move on. But this ignores the population impacted by Aaron’s death. His family. His friends. His loved ones. The people who remember his laugh and will never hear it again. The fact that drugs may have been involved in his death do nothing to eliminate the hurt or lessen the results of his life being stolen from him.

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

– Jack Cameron

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

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

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

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 Cameron

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

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 jackcameronis@gmail.com.

– Jack Cameron

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

New Year. New Approach.

I started writing about Tacoma homicides in 2006 in an effort to honor those who have been taken from my hometown and to demonstrate that Tacoma was no longer the violent crime capital of the Northwest. That year we had 21 Tacoma homicides. The years after that we averaged 12-15 homicides a year. It was so easy to keep up that I added features to TacomaStories. I added 5 Question Friday where I interviewed local luminaries and small businesses. A few years ago my girlfriend and I started seeing what we could do for $20 as a date in Tacoma and that turned into Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date.

In recent years as the violent crime rate has increased, I’ve run out of time to do those other features. In fact, as you can tell from my most recent updates, I’m not even able to keep up on the homicides. In 2021 we had 32 Tacoma homicides. In 2022 we had 45. What started out as something I could do in my spare time is now something I can’t do without dedicating some time to it.

So beginning tomorrow, Monday, January 2, 2023, I will write about a Tacoma homicide victim every Monday. Unfortunately, we’ve had so many homicides that even writing one every week will not have me caught up by this time next year. But I will be closer.

How close I’ll be by this time next year depends entirely on how many Tacoma homicides occur in 2023.

On another note, I plan on bringing back 5 Question Friday soon. If you know someone you believe should participate in 5 Question Friday or if you yourself have some Tacoma related thing you want to talk about, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

Stay safe out there.