On May 18, after spending the night smoking pot and having sex with a prostitute, a 39-year-old Lake City man decided he was going to get a beer. Sounds like a wild way to start the weekend. Little did he know he'd end up digging a hole in his backyard to bury a body.
According to the police report, the woman stayed behind at the man's apartment to take a bath while the man walked to a nearby 7-Eleven, returning home 20 minutes later. The man noticed his bathroom door was still closed. He waited another 15 minutes before venturing in. Upon entering the bathroom, the man found the lifeless body of the 47-year-old prostitute. In a panic, he shook her and slapped her but got no response. Then he really freaked out.
The time line the man provided is fuzzy in the report, but he told police he stayed in his apartment for the next three days, drinking and contemplating what to do with the dead prostitute's body. At one point, he climbed out the window of his apartment and began digging a hole. Perhaps due to some epiphany or newfound respect for the woman, the man decided he was "doing the wrong thing," according to the report—so he clambered back inside and filled his bathtub with cold water. He placed the woman's body in the tub to prevent her from decomposing.
The despondent man walked back to the 7-Eleven, where he called his boss from a pay phone. The next morning, the man and his boss called the police and the medical examiner retrieved the waterlogged body. A toxicology report is pending—but it doesn't look like foul play.
According to SPD spokeswoman Renee Witt, "failure to report a death" is a misdemeanor in Washington State. However, police are holding off on charging the man because, Witt says, "Why add insult to injury? He admitted he picked up a prostitute [and] this woman ultimately died. At that time, it wasn't appropriate or prudent for the officers to... make an arrest or file charges." Witt says that the man wasn't charged with soliciting a prostitute because "it was kind of after the fact. A lot of misdemeanors we have to see happen."
What could possibly possess a sane person to keep a body in his home for days? According to Witt, "It sounds like... he was afraid and didn't know what to do and didn't have anyone to call. There may have been some communication barriers."
The medical examiner's office would not comment on the case, but said it expects the toxicology report to be finished in July.
"In 14 years of police work, I don't think I've ever heard of anything like this," Witt says.