When David Peterson was shot and killed in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood, detectives say they had very little to go on. But in a matter of a few days, they had identified the suspect, and thanks to help from his own mother, arrested him at Sea-Tac Airport.
Homicide detective Cloyd Steiger says it started with the 911 call from Petersen, who was calling to report someone was trying to rob him. Police have yet to release the call, but Steiger describes what is on the recording.
"[Peterson] gives a basic description of the person, a basic description of what happened, and then says the person is walking back toward him and then there is a struggle and the phone goes dead," said Steiger.
They had eye witnesses to the crime and a distant surveillance camera recorded an unidentified suspect.
"He was running from the scene of the shooting right after it happened," said the detective. "He was running with a purpose, running a great distance. It wasn't like running to get away and hide. It was running, running, running."
At first, Seattle police said they were looking for three people. Steiger will not reveal what tip or piece of evidence lead them to 17-year-old Byron White. But he now says the two others with him that night are no longer suspects.
"We identified them early on, brought them in and questioned them, before the arrest of Byron White. They are witnesses in this case. They absolutely did not take part in this murder," said Steiger.
Steiger says the tip that led to White's arrest at SeaTac Airport last weekend came from the suspect's own mother, who called police when she learned her son was trying to fly out of state.
"She said, 'I have no choice.' That was the words she told me. 'I have no choice.' She's an upstanding citizen and she can't put up with this either and that's the double tragedy for her," he said.
Steiger says they have not been able to find the suspect's gun or the victim's phone, but he doesn't think either of them is needed to prosecute White for the crime.
The detective says White did confess and say he was sorry for what he did, but the apology came only after he was caught.