The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Lance Rougeau, 25, with first-degree felony murder in the death of Linda K. Sweezer, 64.
Last Tuesday, Sweezer’s body was found along a roadside near Bonney Lake. Although there had been an attempt to burn Sweezer’s body, the medical examiner determined she died from strangulation but also noted numerous knife wounds to the neck, head, and back.
“Once again, DNA and home surveillance video helps solve a circumstantial case,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
On Oct. 24 at approximately 4:07 a.m., Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies were called to a suspicious object in the road near the dead end of 166th Avenue East in unincorporated Pierce County near Bonney Lake.
Deputies arrived and found a female body covered in burnt clothing.
A video security system from a nearby residence shows two vehicles stopping where the body was found at approximately 1:27 a.m. There was a brief flash of light, which is suspected to be the attempt to burn the body. The two cars then drive away.
Those details are consistent with a witness who said she drove down the street at about 1 a.m. and there was nothing in the road. That same witness went down the road again at approximately 3:30 a.m. and saw the body.
Later that day, Auburn Police officers found an abandoned car in a neighborhood about two and a half miles from where the body was found. There was a large amount of blood in the trunk.
The registered owner of the vehicle was Linda K. Sweezer, and using Ms. Sweezer’s driver’s license photo, investigators were able to confirm that she was the person who had been killed.
A residential security video system at the house in front of which Sweezer’s car was left captured Rougeau’s image as he stood on the porch of the home. Detectives went to Rougeau’s mother’s home where they found and arrested Rougeau.
Detectives also went to Sweezer’s Kent home. Inside, detectives found signs of a struggle and a small amount of blood spatter in the kitchen. They also found a four-month-old girl in an upstairs bedroom. The girl is okay and has been placed in a foster home.
Rougeau is also charged with burglary. Bail was set at $1,000,000.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.