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.
As always, the comments section is moderated. It is reserved for those who knew Maria and want to share thoughts or memories of her. Any negative comments are deleted.
– 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
Kaia Josie Krempl lived a very short, violent life. She was less than five weeks old when her mother died. Police arrived to investigate her death on January 17th. It would later turn out to be a stomach infection. They noticed her newborn twin babies appeared to be sick as well. This was especially true for Kaia.
Kaia arrived at a local hospital in critical condition. She was not just sick. She was severely injured. A CT scan showed a skull fracture with severe brain damage. In addition to her skull, her left shoulder was broken as were a few ribs.
It would be almost two full months before Kaia died from her injuries. Kaia’s brother had also been injured. His injuries were less severe. He recovered. Kaia’s 30-year-old father has pled guilty to her murder and has been sentenced to 23 years in prison. Prosecuting papers indicate he used his phone to do an Internet search on what to do when you’ve beaten your baby.*
Homicides like this are difficult to write about both because of the subject matter and because quite often when someone dies months after the incident, it does not make the news. This particular homicide only seemed to be reported when Kaia’s killer was sentenced.
Kaia Josie Krempl is Tacoma’s fiffth homicide this year. Given that the Summer is almost over, our homicide rate is about half of what it was this time last year. Here is hoping it continues to drop.
My thoughts go out to Kaia’s family. I cannot imagine what they are going through and hope they have a chance to heal.
– Jack Cameron
*The answer for anyone who found this page using similar search terms is call 911 for paramedics and police, turn yourself in, and get help.
On the night of Wednesday January 4th, 31-year-old Theresa Greenhalgh and 22-year-old Mary Buras were in an upstairs bedroom of a house in the 3700 block of Yakima Ave. near Lincoln Park. A 36-year-old man was doing heroin in the room. The man’s 36-year-old sister and 15-year-old nephew were also in the house. At some point the man began hearing voices and yelling at Theresa. He would later say voices were telling him to kill her. He attacked her with his fists and a framing hammer. When his sister got in the way, he hit her as well. His sister and nephew left the house. The man then proceeded to attack both women, using a hatchet to behead them. His sister and nephew returned to the house the next day. Charging papers state that they helped the man clean up. On the night of the 6th they started a fire in the house in an attempt to cover up the crime. All three have been arrested.
This is Tacoma’s first two homicides this year. Theresa Greenhalgh leaves behind three children, ages ranging from five-months-old to nine-years-old. It is easy to get caught up in the gruesome details of a crime like this and forget that this is not a movie or television show, but two people who were here in Tacoma on New Year’s Day and have been taken from this world against their will. These murders will echo in the lives of dozens of friends and relatives for years. It is difficult to overstate the damage done on both a personal and community level when crimes like this occur.
As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew the victims and want to share thoughts or memories of the victims. The comments section moderated and each comment is approved before it is published.
Mary Buras has a CrowdFunding Page to help pay for her cremation.
– Jack Cameron
In the early morning hours of Friday, November 11th, 23-year-old Morgan Deines and an unidentified male friend were near North Junett and North 7th Street. It was just after 2am, when all the bars close. According to statements from Morgan’s friend, they were prowling cars when they found a drunk 28-year-old man asleep in the driver’s seat of a car. They opened the driver’s side door and took his cellphone. They were in the process of taking speakers out of his trunk when he woke up. Morgan’s friend ran towards 6th Avenue. Morgan got into her black Lexus SUV in an attempt to drive away. Moments later Morgan’s friend heard four gunshots. All four gunshots from the 28-year-old’s gun hit Morgan’s vehicle. One shot hit Morgan in the back of the head. Her vehicle continued for about a block before stopping when it bumped into a parked car. Morgan would die a short time later at the hospital becoming Tacoma’s fifteenth homicide this year.
It is worth noting that while Tacoma tends to have a fairly open policy on using lethal force to protect yourself or your property, it does require that you be in potential danger. Firing a gun at a fleeing car does not qualify. Shooting someone in the back of the head is murder.
Police arrested the 28-year-old man on the 22nd. During that time there was precious little released to the public about the case. Typically when only a small amount of information is available it is either because the police genuinely have nothing or they have something they are actively working on. In this case it appears it was the latter. I do not consider this site a ‘news’ site and do not write about homicides until I feel I have sufficient information to do so. This is why this entry is two weeks after the incident.
As long time readers will know, I believe that an individual should be judged by more than their last actions. There are those who may think that someone who is thought to be a thief deserves whatever consequences occur. To those I ask that they recall their own worst actions and see that we all have made bad decisions at one time or another. More to the point, regardless of those actions and decisions everyone has friends and loved ones who now have a hole in their life where their friend used to be.
Morgan Pahkala Deines was born in Eugene, Oregon. She had a love of water and weather. She enrolled at Oregon State University to study Atmospheric Science. Nothing would excite her more than a thunder storm. Later she came to Tacoma where her mother lives. She had many tattoos and piercings and loved to express herself. She had an outgoing personality that tended to be infectious. When she was younger, she was a Girl Scout and volunteered at a food bank called Food For Lane County.
As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew Morgan and want to share memories of her. All comments are moderated and approved by me before they appear. Inappropriate comments will be deleted.
– Jack Cameron
29-year-old Tyrell Stokes was one of over 50 people who attended a party at an afterhours private club at 5224 South Tacoma Way on Saturday, October 22nd. A little before 2am on Sunday the 23rd, the rapper who was celebrating a recent record deal hit the stage. At 2:08am police heard between 20-30 gunshots. They responded to the scene and found many of the patrons fighting with each other and with first responders. Tyrell was still inside the club. He was shot. Outside, his brother and another man were also shot. They were all taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital where Tyrell died of his wounds two hours later. His brother and the other victim are expected to survive.
This is Tacoma’s fourteenth homicide this year. It’s also the fourth homicide in less than a month and the third unsolved homicide in less than a month. There was also a shooting at the Safeway on South 72nd and Portland Avenue a few weeks ago that left a man in critical condition. While this recent increase in violence is concerning, it is not all that unusual. It’s easy to see patterns where there is only coincidence. However, given the number of recent unsolved shootings, it’s difficult to say what might be causing this uptick.
Despite over 50 witnesses, Tacoma Police have had difficulty getting information due to many of the witnesses being inconsistent or uncooperative. Crime Stoppers is offering up to $1000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible for this triple shooting. You can call them and remain anonymous at 1-800-222-TIPS.
As always, the comments section is moderated and reserved for those who knew Tyrell and want to share memories of him.
– Jack Cameron