Austin Wenner and Jessica Lewis. Photo courtesy of Gina Jaschke

Austin Wenner and Jessica Lewis. Photo courtesy of Gina Jaschke

Landlord found guilty of murdering tenants, placing bodies into suitcases

In June 2020, suitcases were found along West Seattle shorelines containing human remains of two people who were renting a room from Michael Lee Dudley.

A Burien landlord accused of killing two tenants and placing their dismembered bodies into suitcases in June 2020 was found guilty of murder on Thursday, Dec. 8.

Michael Lee Dudley, 64, was found guilty of four counts of second-degree murder, according to King County Superior Court documents. The jury also found Dudley guilty of being armed with a gun at the time of the murders. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

The bodies of the tenants, who were in a long-term relationship together, were found along Alki in West Seattle after Dudley attempted to rid of the suitcases in two different waterways.

The bodies were identified in 2020 as Jessica Lewis, 35, of Federal Way, and Austin Wenner, 27, of Kent.

“We are so relieved and happy that justice was served,” said Gina Jaschke, Lewis’s aunt, on Dec. 8 on behalf of the families. “Our families have grown closer together, where tragedy sometimes rips them apart. … I am just thankful Michael Dudley’s reign of preying on those less fortunate has come to an end.”

Jaschke thanked the Seattle Police Department and Detective Cooper, adding that “they always assured me to trust them. And they did not let us down.”

The two victims had been renting a room from Dudley at his Burien home along Ambaum Road since December 2019, according to documents. Dudley was allegedly angry with the victims over the rent payment, the Mirror previously reported.

Lewis died from multiple gunshot wounds and Wenner died from a gunshot wound to the torso, both on or about June 9, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Medical examiners determined “the victims had been beaten and shot prior to being dismembered,” according to court documents. The medical examiner’s office reported there may have been multiple people involved in the homicide because of how the victims had been dismembered. Their bodies were found separated into plastic bags in suitcases and dumped along waterways in West Seattle.

On June 19, 2020, Seattle police and Seattle firefighters recovered several trash bags and suitcases containing human remains found in the water near the 1100 block of Alki Avenue SW. The agencies initially responded to the area for reports of a suspicious suitcase that had washed up on the beach. Upon a search of the area, officers saw trash bags containing body parts floating in the water.

Three days later, King County sheriff’s deputies discovered another suitcase with human remains near the 1000 block of West Marginal Place near the Seattle City Light power substation.

A search warrant for the Burien home was served on Aug. 19, 2020, and detectives found bullet holes, bullet strikes, spent rounds and blood in the “blue room” where Wenner and Lewis had been staying, documents said. Dudley could not explain to investigators how the bullet damage occurred.

Lewis, a mother of four, had worked alongside her grandmother as a caregiver for developmentally disabled and hospice care patients at an adult family home in Kirkland, said Gina Jaschke, Lewis’s aunt. Wenner was described by his family as a country boy who loved the outdoors.

Jaschke said, “Jessica’s children are thankful this monster can no longer hurt anybody else.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Courtesy Photo, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Judge finds probable cause to hold Kent man for kidnapping girl

Man, 40, reportedly grabbed 6-year-old girl in East Hill apartment complex parking lot

t
King County residential property values rise 12.4% in SE Kent

King County Assessor John Wilson begins to release 2024 numbers

t
Three 11-year-old girls in Kent help stop kidnapping of 6-year-old girl

40-year-old man reportedly grabbed girl in apartment complex parking lot on East Hill

t
Kent Police seek male teen driver in fatal hit-and-run on East Hill | Update

Teen reportedly driving stolen vehicle and fleeing police during Saturday, July 13 incident; victim identified

t
13-year-old boy fatally shot in Kent on East Hill near Turnkey Park | Update

Boy found shot near apartment complex Tuesday night, July 16 identified by medical examiner

t
Kent School Board votes 3-1 to send levy to voters in November

Capital projects and technology levy reduced from $192 million to $97 million after previous failures

t
Kiwanis clubs to place painted rocks at downtown Kent parks

Purpose is to ‘spread joy and positivity’

t
Driver caught on I-5 in Kent using fake passenger in HOV lane

Driver called it a ‘training aid’ after State Patrol trooper pulled her over near South 272nd Street

t
Kent Police seek public’s help to find woman missing since 2009

Release sketch of what Alyssa McLemore might look like today as detectives seek to solve case

Courtesy Image, Sound Transit
Far right lane of southbound I-5 in Kent to close for 2 weeks

July 21 to Aug. 5 between South 259th Street and South 272nd Street for light rail drainage work

t
Kent firefighters extinguish three separate brush fires on West Hill

Fire breaks out early Friday morning, July 12 in wooded area west of Interstate 5