Maria Ann Counts, who was arrested for the kidnapping, rape, and sexual exploitation of a Bonney Lake teenager, has pled guilty to all charges last week.
The dramatic saga began May 9, 2018, when Lily Christopherson disappeared from her home in the middle of the night.
This wasn’t the first time Christopherson, who was 15 at the time, had run away from home, but she always returned shortly afterward. However, it quickly became clear to her mother that something was terribly wrong — the passwords for email addresses Lily shared with her friends and Lily’s personal social media accounts had all been changed, and location information on her Facebook was erratic, “showing logins from Eastern Washington and random areas within minutes of each other,” court documents read.
By May 16, the Bonney Lake Police Department had started printing and distributing flyers asking for information about Lily and the last person she was believed to be with, Alex Thueringer.
Alex was picked up by police in Everett on May 20. He confirmed that they spent some time together on May 9, and said they had bused to Federal Way to meet up with who was eventually identified as Counts and her suspected accomplice, Christopher Fitzpatrick, 39.
Counts was arrested May 24 at a Motel 6 in Tumwater. However, neither Lily or Fitzpatrick were with her, and she told police she had left Fitzpatrick because he was more interested in Lily than her, court documents read.
Initially, she denied knowing Lily was underaged, but on several occasions said Lily was 17 years old. She eventually showed officers messages on her phone, which contained sexually explicit photos and appeared to show Counts and Fitzpatrick setting up “dates” for Lily and herself, documents read.
At first, Counts said none of the “dates” ever occurred, but then admitted later they had several together. She also told police Fitzpatrick had sexual contact with Lily several times, and he also provided Lily and Counts with drugs.
She further described Fitzpatrick as “a hacker” who routinely changed phones and the passwords of Counts’ various email and social media accounts.
Fitzpatrick was arrested in Lakewood on May 26, but he was not with Lily at the time.
Lily was spotted at a bus stop in Tacoma on June 3 by a passerby, and was reunited with her family.
Both Counts and Fitzpatrick were charged with first-degree kidnapping, promoting the commercial sexual abuse of a minor, two counts of third-degree rape, unlawful delivery of controlled substances to a minor, and second-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Just hours after his arraignment, Fitzpatrick tried and failed to hang himself in the Pierce County Jail.
Counts’ jury trial was due to begin Jan. 3, but the trial was moved up so Counts and Fitzpatrick would face the same jury as co-defenders on April 9, 2019.
She officially pled guilty to all charges Jan. 15, making her the third person in this case to plead guilty.
The other two were William Kent Pittman and Nicholas David Biancalana, who both pled guilty to third-degree rape of a child on Sept. 21, 2018.
CORRECTION: In the print version of this article, it was stated Counts and Fitzpatrick would a jury as co-defenders on April 9, 2018. The correct year is 2019.