Prosecutor’s charge suspect in woman’s death, body burning | UPDATE

An early-morning stroll brought a grisly discovery in a quiet neighborhood near Bonney Lake, jump-starting a tragic story that has gone nationwide. In short order, the Medical Examiner’s Office determine the woman had been strangled. Things took a macabre twist when police added that someone had attempted to set fire to the body.

10/31 UPDATE: The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Lance Rougeau, 25, with first degree murder of Linda K. Sweezer, 64. For the full story, read below.

According to a press release, 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 1:00 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 Ms. 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.

Rougeau is also charged with burglary.

Bail was set at $1,000,000.00.

Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

10/30 ORIGINAL POST: An early-morning stroll brought a grisly discovery in a quiet neighborhood near Bonney Lake, jump-starting a tragic story that has gone nationwide.

It all began about 4 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, in an unincorporated area of Pierce County wedged between Lake Tapps and Lakeland Hills. Someone out for a walk found the body of a deceased woman, prompting a string of events that continued to play out this week.

In short order, the Medical Examiner’s Office determine the woman had been strangled. Things took a macabre twist when police added that someone had attempted to set fire to the body.

The victim was quickly identified as Linda Sweezer, 64, a Kent resident.

The already-brutal story took an emotional turn when authorities went to Sweezer’s home. There, they found a four-month-old girl in a crib, alone and dehydrated. Police estimated she had been unattended for perhaps two or three days.

The only bit of good news coming from the tragic tale is the girl was whisked to Seattle Children’s Hospital where she was treated. Child Protective Services found a temporary home where she is being cared for.

At Sweezer’s Kent home, police uncovered evidence leading them to believe she was killed there before being transported to the neighborhood just west of Lake Tapps.

It was determined Sweezer was the child’s grandmother and had been attempting to obtain custody.

Police were able to come up with a suspect and began hunting for 25-year-old Lance Gene Francoise Rougeau. He was found Oct. 25 in Kent and jailed; a day later he was in King County Superior Court, where it was announced he would be held without bail, pending charges.

It was expected Rougeau would be arraigned Monday, Oct. 30.

In the days following Sweezer’s death, law enforcement officials were still attempting to establish a connection between Rougeau, the victim and the mother of the baby girl.

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