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Eviction dispute ended in murder of Seattle woman, police say

Lalita (Lita) Byrnes was found stabbed more than 60 times in her apartment March 12.

Prosecutors filed charges against the roommate of Lalita (Lita) Byrnes, who was stabbed to death in her Seattle home on March 12.

Ian Flaherty, 25, was arrested April 27 and is now charged with first-degree murder.

According to charging documents, Byrnes was attempting to evict Flaherty for failing to pay "his share of the expenses." Byrnes and Flaherty shared a two-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a split-level house in the Wallingford neighborhood.

Byrnes mother told police she had asked him to sign an eviction notice. Byrnes' brother also told detectives he saw her on March 11 and asked Flaherty to move out. That was the day before her body was found.

Flaherty gave police a different story.

Detectives say he called 911 just after midnight on March 12. Officers met him at his workplace in SODO where he told them at around 11:20 p.m., “...he was at home and heard Byrnes in an argument with an unknown male.”

Flaherty told police that Byrnes and the unidentified male turned on him, and “for some unknown reason” Byrnes attacked Flaherty, pulling his hair while scratching and biting him. Police noticed Flaherty had bandages on his fingers and a scratch on his neck.

He told detectives Byrnes was fine and uninjured when he left their residence after the fight. He never mentioned Byrnes had asked him to sign an eviction notice.

Detectives eventually obtained a warrant, searched Flaherty’s vehicle, and found blood stains that matched the DNA profile of Lita Byrnes.

An autopsy of Byrnes’ body says she suffered “a prolonged attack by her killer – over 60 to 70 stab wounds to her body.”

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