SHORELINE, Wash. — Disclaimer: This story contains graphic details that may be upsetting.
Tyrone Bernard Wells Jr. was charged with first-degree murder in King County Superior Court on Wednesday after a woman was found “brutally murdered” at his Shoreline home.
Prosecutors requested Wells’ bail be set at $5 million to reflect the “extreme danger” he poses to the community if he was released from jail, according to charging documents.
Wells allegedly called 911 around 7:21 a.m. on Sunday, March 27, and told dispatchers he wanted to “report a murder,” according to court documents. Wells reportedly told dispatchers “the murder was on my account… I murdered her” and that he used a hatchet and a pair of bolt cutters to kill the woman.
Shoreline Police Chief Ryan Abbot said when officers arrived at the complex, Wells was waiting for them and had blood on his clothes. He was detained without incident, according to Abbott.
Officers found a woman dead inside Wells’ apartment, laying face down with “major trauma about the head.” The scene was “extremely bloody,” according to court documents. A hatchet and bolt cutters were found lying near the woman’s body, court documents said.
Wells told police he had known the victim, who was later identified as Randee Leeann Rios, 32, since he moved to Washington from California in 2017, according to court documents. Wells alleged he and the victim had a relationship and she would come over and stay with him on occasion.
Wells told police he used methamphetamine and had been awake “since Wednesday.” The last time he reported using meth was the day before the murder, on Saturday, March 26. That night, Wells invited Rios to come to his apartment to stay the night.
Wells told police he had the “premeditation” to kill her at the time he invited her over, according to court documents.
Wells told police he had a hatchet stored in his closet given to him by Rios’ own mother that he decided he would use as a murder weapon. After Wells arrived, he told police he “struggled with the thought of whether or not he would actually go through with murdering her,” court documents said.
When dawn came, Wells decided he would go through with his plan to murder Rios, according to court documents. Wells tapped Rios on the side of the head with a battery charger because he “wanted her to be fully aware of what he was about to do to her,” court documents said.
Wells then allegedly struck Rios in the head with the hatchet blade several times. He then switched to hitting her with a set of Bongo drums, and then bolt cutters when he realized she was still alive, according to court documents.
Wells then told police he called his mother who told him to call 911, according to court documents. Before calling the police, Wells attempted to contact a neighbor to “smoke marijuana” but found that his neighbor wasn’t home. He also tried to call his father, but couldn’t reach him, court documents said.
Police reportedly asked Wells if he “heard voices,” but Wells answered he did not.
He also acknowledged Rios’ mother would be traumatized by his actions and acknowledged Rios herself had overcome “significant medical issues in her life,” including having to relearn how to walk following an accident, according to court documents.
Wells reportedly asked police what crime he would be charged with and was told “murder in the first degree,” which includes the element “premeditation.” Wells then smiled and said, “I said that word (earlier),” according to court documents.
Wells agreed to write Rios’ mother a letter apologizing for murdering her daughter, according to court documents. Wells' written statement said, “Before anyone else I wanted to be nothing but a good husband to Randee as foul as it sounds or seems. Please excuse me for added Grief (sic) and sadness I caused on (sic) your heart.”
Wells was booked into the King County Jail for murder in the first degree.
Major crimes detectives recovered bloody bolt cutters and a bloody, broken set of Bongo drums from his apartment.
The autopsy for Rios found injuries consistent with Wells’ description of the murder. An associate medical examiner observed “at least eleven sharp-force wounds… and fifteen strikes to the head,” according to court documents. The medical examiner noted severe wounds from Rios trying to shield herself from the attack. All of Rios’ wounds were inflicted “peri-mortem” while she was still alive, the medical examiner said.
Casey McNerthney, the spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, said that Wells’ confession doesn't automatically mean he will be convicted.
“Speaking generally, when you have people who confess, that is beneficial to the investigation. But we're going to handle this case the same way we handle the other ones and treat it very carefully,” McNerthney said.
A friend of the victim's family has set up a fundraising page for memorial and funeral expenses.