Kent woman killed in her East Hill home; suspect arrested in strangulation death

Linda Sweezer at a Kent Black Action Commission event. Courtesy Photo

Detectives continue to track down details about the killing of a 64-year-old Kent woman at her East Hill home.

Linda K. Sweezer, a board member of the Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC), reportedly was killed inside her home in the 23200 block of 105th Avenue Southeast, according to information released by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Sweezer died from manual strangulation, according to a phone interview Thursday with the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. She also had multiple blunt and sharp force injuries.

Pierce County Sheriff Department detectives on Wednesday arrested Lance Rougeau, 25, with a last known address in Kent, for investigation of second-degree murder for the killing of Sweezer. Investigators have not yet released any connection between Sweezer and Rougeau. Rougeau is in custody in the Pierce County Jail in Tacoma.

Police also found an abandoned 4-month-old baby inside Sweezer’s home. The infant suffered from dehydration and was taken to Seattle Children’s Hospital for treatment, and is expected to recover. Detectives learned that Sweezer was caring for the infant and was in the process of obtaining legal custody.“Linda was a fantastic person, a sweet spirit, a wonderful loyal member of the Kent Black Action Commission,” KBAC executive director Gwen Allen-Carston said in a statement posted on Facebook. “She was a giving person. Her heart and spirit will be with us for a long time.”

Sweezer served on the seven-member board of the KBAC, which was formed for the African American community to come together on issues that affect the community with concerns about education, community resources, the job market, politics, health or social interests. The group sponsored political forums this fall in Kent.

The investigation by detectives began at about 4:07 a.m. Tuesday when a passerby reported a body at the intersection of 166th Avenue East and 24th Street East in the Lake Tapps area of Pierce County, according to the Sheriff’s Department Facebook posting.

Deputies found a partially burned woman’s body on the side of the road. Investigators believe the woman had been killed at another location and her body had been dumped at the location by the suspects. Surveillance images from a nearby residence showed two sets of vehicle headlights leaving the scene shortly after they had attempted to set her body on fire.

At about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Auburn Police found a suspicious vehicle abandoned in the 2000 block of 63rd Street Southeast. Registration information in the vehicle led police to Sweezer’s Kent home.

Detectives served a search warrant at Sweezer’s home Wednesday morning. Detectives discovered evidence that indicated the homicide likely occurred inside the home. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that the body of the woman found near Lake Tapps is Sweezer, the resident of the Kent house.

Rougeau was known to frequent the Kent area, and recently appeared to be homeless. He had a last known address at an apartment in the 22400 block on the East Hill of Kent. Police arrested him just a short distance from Sweezer’s home.

Detectives also are reportedly looking for a second suspect in the killing. Detectives also are attempting to locate the Sweezer’s other vehicle, a bronze 2003 Chevrolet Impala, Washington State license plate AGX9423.

Richard Johnson, a KBAC board member, posted a comment about Sweezer on Facebook.

“I can still hear Linda saying ‘we are like family and I consider you like a big brother to me,’” he said. “I wish your big brother could have protected you from this. You did not deserve this.”

The following statement appeared on the KBAC Facebook page:

“Please keep our members in prayer. We have lost a very dedicated and loyal Commissioner. Linda Sweezer, you will be missed. It will always be

‘ALL HANDS ON DECK’ because of and for you. Rest in Love and Peace.”

Lance Rougeau.

Lance Rougeau.

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