The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Lance Rougeau, 25, on Monday with first-degree murder in the death of Linda K. Sweezer, 64, at her Kent home.
Sweezer’s body was found Oct. 24 along a roadside near Bonney Lake. Athough 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, according to court documents.
“Once again, DNA and home surveillance video helps solve a circumstantial case,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist in a post on the Prosecutor’s Office website.
Prosecutors also charged Rougeau, whose last known address was in Kent, with burglary. Rougeau pleaded not guilty to both charges. He remained in custody Monday in the Pierce County jail in Tacoma with bail set at $1 million.
On Oct. 24, 2017 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 showed 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 drove 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 Sweezer’s driver’s license photo, investigators were able to confirm that she was the woman who had been killed.
A residential security video system at the house in front of which Sweezer’s car was left reportedly captured Rougeau’s image as he stood on the porch of the home. Detectives went to Rougeau’s mother’s home in Kent where they found and arrested Rougeau for investigation of murder.
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. Detectives also found a 4-month-old girl, a granddaughter of Sweezer, in an upstairs bedroom. The girl is OK and has been placed in a foster home.
Rougeau has convictions for residential burglary, theft of a firearm, custodial assault and first-degree robbery.