Man convicted of murdering Kent woman during burglary

Linda Sweezer. COURTESY PHOTO

Linda Sweezer. COURTESY PHOTO

A man has been convicted of killing a 64-year-old Kent woman while burglarizing her East Hill home in 2017.

Jurors found Lance Gene Francoise Rougeau guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Linda K. Sweezer. The verdict came in Pierce County Superior Court last Friday.

Rougeau, 28, with a last known address in Kent, also was found guilty of first-degree burglary, residential burglary and motor vehicle theft. He is scheduled to be sentenced later this year.

Sweezer, a board member of the Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC), was killed inside her home on Oct. 22, 2017 in the 23200 block of 105th Avenue Southeast, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Sweezer’s body was found Oct. 24 along a roadside near Bonney Lake. There had been an attempt to burn Sweezer’s body on the side of the road.

Sweezer died from manual strangulation, according to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. She also had multiple knife wounds to her neck, head and back.

DNA and home surveillance video helped solve a circumstantial case, according to Pierce County prosecutors.

Rougeau was known to frequent the Kent area, and recently appeared to be homeless.

According to prosecutors, there were signs of a struggle and a small amount of blood spatter in the kitchen of Sweezer’s home. Detectives also found a 4-month-old girl, a granddaughter of Sweezer, in an upstairs bedroom. The girl was OK.

“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. “She was a giving person. Her heart and spirit will be with us for a long time.” Sweezer was an active, beloved volunteer at her church and in the community.


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