Task Force had major role in aftermath of murder

The Major Crimes Task Force, a coalition of law enforcement officers from King County’s smaller communities, exists to lend a hand when a member city is rocked by violence.

And it rarely gets worse than the Aug. 27 murder of Black Diamond’s Ella Mae Walker. The 86-year-old grandmother was viciously stabbed to death while seated in a recliner in the home she shared with her 50-year-old son. The son, charged with the murder, remains behind bars; bail was set at $1 million.

Soon after the afternoon murder was discovered, task force members scrambled from all parts of the county, heading for Black Diamond where each could put his or her special talents to use.

“It was a great example of resources being pooled together,” said Lt. Eric Sortland of the Enumclaw Police Department. One of three EPD members on the task force, Sortland served as incident commander in the earliest stages of the Black Diamond investigation.

“You wear multiple hats,” he said of belonging to the task force. “You have to be prepared to be in a command position or work as a detective, depending upon the situation.”

Sortland and Black Diamond Sgt. Greg Goral took on the chore of interviewing Cecil Walker, whose face, hands and clothes were smeared with blood when he arrived at the Black Diamond police station to report a dead body at the home in the 25000 block of Morgan St.

Sortland said Walker issued a series of comments, but stopped short of admitting he killed his mother. He did not deny being involved in the gruesome murder, Sortland added.

Other task force members played important roles in securing evidence in the hours following the murder. Det. Brian Horn from Issaquah wrote the search warrant that was used to later search the home and Sgt. Chris Wilson, also from Issaquah, swabbed two samples of what appeared to be blood from Walker’s chin.

Officer Dan Moate of the Snoqualmie Police Department interviewed Black Diamond records clerk Summer Parkinson. She had talked with Walker when he arrived at the police station to tell of the deceased woman at the Morgan Street home.

Officer James Schrimpsher of the Algona Police Department interviewed Patrick Walker, a grandson of Ella Walker who lived in a camp trailer in the backyard of the Morgan Street residence.

Sortland said other task force members arrived from Pacific, Algona, Duvall and Lake Forest Park.

In Black Diamond, they’re grateful for the extra hands.

“It’s an unbelievable resource,” Police Chief Jamie Kiblinger said of the Major Crimes Task Force. “To have something like this, where we all work together, it’s invaluable.”

Kiblinger points out her department has just 10 officers and, if not for the task force members, there would have been plenty of overtime hours worked. In a time of tight departmental budgets, she added, that overtime cushion simply doesn’t exist.

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