A retired Puyallup police sergeant who received the first special commendation awarded to one of the department’s officers died Sunday at Spencer Lake in Mason County.
John Eads, 60, fell off a paddle board on the lake after what witnesses described as a seizure, Mason County Sheriff’s chief deputy Dean Byrd said this week.
Eads was unresponsive when pulled from the water and resuscitation was attempted. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He died of natural causes, which probably were cardiac-related, Coroner Wes Stockwell said.
Eads, who grew up in Puyallup, had wanted to be on the police force in high school. He joined the department about 35 years ago.
Pierce County prosecutors honored him in 1995 for solving the murder of Jeane Lea Miller, a 27-year-old single mother. Miller, who had a physical disability, was raped, beaten and strangled in July 1988 in her apartment while her two young sons were asleep.
After seven years of working on the case, Eads watched his chief suspect – Miller’s 30-year-old cousin, Michael Longozo – plead guilty to first-degree murder and receive a life sentence.
DNA evidence had not been enough to charge Longozo, but Eads solved the case in part by using a telling letter Longozo wrote to his mother and a statement from his ex-wife, to whom he confessed.
The special commendation Eads received for his work was the first ever awarded to a Puyallup officer. The awards usually go to detectives who solve many cases in a year, but solving an especially difficult case can also qualify.
Police Capt. Dave McDonald said there would be “a lot of police presence” at Eads’s funeral, but he did not have details about the arrangements.
Eads is survived by his wife, a Seattle police officer, McDonald said.