Court file: Cellphone calls led cops to suspect in killing of grandmother
TACOMA, Wash. (KOMO) - Sheriff's detectives were able to quickly track down the suspect in the killing of Kent grandmother Linda K. Sweezer due to a chance encounter he had with a stranger who let the suspect use his cellphone, according to newly released court documents.
The court documents also reveal that DNA from the suspect, Lance Rougeau, 25, was found on the steering wheel of the victim's car, and her car key fob was found in a backpack in the suspect's mother's apartment.
Rougeau has been charged with first-degree murder and burglary. Bail for him was set at $1 million as he made his first court appearance Monday.
"She was a good woman and didn't deserve her fate," said Linda's ex-husband Larry Sweezer. He came to court to get a glimpse of the suspect.
The investigation into the case began after Sweezer's partially burned body was found covered in burned clothing Oct. 24 along a roadside near Bonney Lake in Pierce County. She was identified after her car was later found abandoned about 2 1/2 miles from where her body was dumped.
The investigation then found that Sweezer apparently had been killed inside her home, about 10 miles away in Kent.
The suspect had then stolen her car and driven her body to the spot where it was placed and set on fire at about 1:30 a.m, according to court documents.
The suspect then drove away in Sweezer's car, but the car stalled about 2 1/2 miles away in the 2000 block of 63rd Street SE, where it was later found, according to the court file.
"Whatever happened, Linda would not go down without a fight," said Larry Sweezer. "She was a fighter, a strong willed woman."
An investigation found that the suspect had asked a resident of the neighborhood there for help getting the car started. The neighbor got some gas for the suspect, but when the car still would not start, the suspect asked for a ride to Burien. When the neighbor refused, the suspect asked to use his cellphone and made two calls.
Using the information from the neighbor's phone, detectives then were able to trace the suspect to his mother's home, where he and his brother were found, court documents show.
The suspect was then placed under arrest for investigation of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.
The newly released documents still do not disclose any previous connection between Rougeau and Sweezer. Nor do they shed any light on another suspect who drove a second car to the scene where Sweezer's body was dumped.
But they do reveal that Rougeau's image was captured on surveillance video on the porch of a residence at the site where Sweezer's car was left.
They also found that a knife found in Sweezer's residence had her blood on it. An autopsy found that her cause of death was strangulation. She also had suffered numerous knife wounds to the neck, head and back, court files say.
A large amount of blood also was found in the trunk of Sweezer's car, according to court documents.
"it is just inexplicable as to what happened to her when you consider the type of person she was," said friend Richard Johnson. "And to come to this kind of end is totally contradictory to her life."
Records show that Rougeau has a criminal record, including previous convictions for burglary, theft of a firearm, assault and first-degree robbery.
"I'm devastated about what happened to Linda," said Johnson. "And I'm also angry about what happened to Linda."
As for the fate of the baby, Larry Sweezer says it's a private family matter now.