It was around 4pm on February 1st when Tacoma police officers arrived at the home of Otto Youngers in the 3500 block of South Wilkeson Street in the Proctor neighborhood. They were there to check on the 78-year-old man after getting a call from his son’s friend. The friend said that Otto’s son had texted him earlier in the day saying he shot his father. His son had been behaving strangely lately. Inside they found Otto Youngers dead from a gunshot to the face. His son had a shell casing in his pocket and kept talking about his father being a ‘monster’, a ‘nazi’, and the person responsible for killing JFK. Otto Youngers becomes the fourth Tacoma homicide this year.
Otto’s 53-year-old son has been arrested for his murder. Though they mostly kept to themselves, Otto and his son were well known and liked in the neighborhood. Neighbors say Otto’s son was behaving strangely in recent weeks. It is clear that Otto’s death is the result of a combination of deadly weapons and significant mental illness.
This is the second parent being killed by their son in less than a year. As the fourth homicide this year, it’s also a significant increase in the rate of homicides from recent years. Typically we have about one homicide a month. At our current rate we are over double that.
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It was just after 1:00am early Saturday morning on January 27th. Fifteen-year-old Hector Gonzales and his 15-year-old best friend waited in the alley behind his best friend’s girlfriend’s house in the 5100 block of South Oakes Street. Hector had a baseball bat. The plan was that his best friend’s girlfriend had invited an acquaintance over. They knew this acquaintance had marijuana. Their plan was to rob him and take it.
The acquaintance came to the house expecting to have sex with the girl, but when he got there his gun fell out of his pocket. The girl told him to leave and texted her boyfriend to warn him about the gun. The acquaintance exited the house and was attacked. He was hit several times with the bat before pulling out his gun and firing one shot. The shot hit Hector Gonzales in the chest. The acquaintance ran away tossing the gun in some nearby bushes. Fifteen-year-old Hector Gonzales died at the scene becoming Tacoma’s third Tacoma homicide of 2018. Prosecutors have declined to file charges against Hector’s killer as it was deemed self-defense.
Whenever a teenager is murdered regardless of the circumstances it is a tragedy. In this case, it is difficult to see anything but tragedy. It is every parent’s nightmare. There is no one in this story you want to imagine your child being. And for four families, it is not imagination, but hard, cruel reality. Teenagers are not fully formed people. They have not figured out who they are yet. We do not know and will never know who Hector Gonzales would have turned out to be. Hector’s family has started a GoFundMe campaign in his name.
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– Jack Cameron
38-year-old Jeremy Martin returned home in 1400 block of South 37th Street around 1:30am on December 5th . Jeremy was shot multiple times shortly after arriving home. Someone in a large puffy coat was seen leaving the home shortly after the gunshots. That person got into a waiting vehicle and left. Jeremy was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he died hours later becoming the eleventh homicide this year for the city of Tacoma.
This is the extent of information available on the last hours of Jeremy Martin. I had waited in the hopes that more information would come to light, but sadly, none has. Pierce County Crime Stoppers is offering $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for this murder. Anyone with information on this murder is asked to call 800-222-TIPS (8477). Callers can remain anonymous.
Jeremy would have turned 39 on Christmas Day. In a Facebook post made less than a month before his death, Jeremy wrote: “If I die tommorrow I did everything I said I was gonna do except a couple of things lol!” It’s clear that Jeremy did his best to live his life to the fullest. It is tragic that his life has been cut short.
Killings where there is nearly no information are in some ways the most heartbreaking. For most, this is merely another homicide in a city that has about a dozen homicides a year. But for family and friends, especially during this season, their world has changed in a way not thought possible. It simultaneously feels unreal and all too real. The lack of information about something so personally catastrophic can be maddening. Jeremy Martin now lives in their memories. His friends and family have my deepest sympathies.
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Here’s hoping this is the last of the Tacoma homicides for 2017.
– Jack Cameron
In the early morning hours of November 4th, 45-year-old James Timmons was on the hunt. He was looking for a Pokemon. James had been playing the smartphone game, Pokemon Go for a while now. It was a common occurrence to see him in the neighborhood taking a walk looking for a rare Pokemon. A little after two in the morning near South 66th and Tyler, James encountered someone with a gun. Neighbors report hearing gunshots around 2:25am. When the paramedics arrived James Timmons was already dead becoming the TKth Tacoma homicide this year. He was three blocks from his house.
James worked odd jobs and volunteered 20 hours a week managing the Mount Tahoma High School concessions stand where he was well known and well liked. He had an innocence about him and a genuine desire to help and engage with others.
Two months before his death James’ grandmother died. His mother died only a month before James’ murder. He had been staying a friend’s house for the last few months, but he was doing what he could to get by. I can imagine in such circumstances how escaping into a game like Pokemon Go would be a temporary relief. This murder is as senseless as any I have written up in the last eleven years.
At the time of this writing Tacoma police have not announced any suspect information, have not arrested anyone, and are asking for the public’s help. If anyone has any information on this murder, Pierce County Crime Stoppers are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and charges in this case. You can contact them at 1-800-222-8477.
A crowdfunding campaign has been created to pay for James’ memorial. If you’d like to help, here is the link: https://www.youcaring.com/rhondastinsonandmounttahomaboosterclub-1002491 I have talked to families who do these crowdfunding campaigns. Every donation is meaningful. If you are looking for a direct way to help someone, this is it.
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– Jack Cameron
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.
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– Jack Cameron
From 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
His 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