Man faces 2 murder charges after 2nd stabbing victim dies; JBLM grieves for other victim

Disabled man, 67, had been found injured in his home Monday

jpawloski@theolympian.comSeptember 27, 2013 

Tyler Lewis, 30, of Lacey will now be charged with two counts of first-degree murder instead of one, a prosecutor said.


The 67-year-old man who was found Monday stabbed inside his home on Marvin Road has died.

Charles “Wes” Simpson, who used a wheelchair to get around, was found badly injured Monday afternoon after deputies say he was stabbed in the neck with a screwdriver in his home. Simpson died Thursday at Providence St. Peter Hospital.

The stabbing suspect, Tyler Lewis, 30, of Lacey, will now be charged with two counts of first-degree murder instead of one, a prosecutor said.

Lewis is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of his mother, Frankie Austin, 59. Austin was found Monday stabbed to death in the garage of her Foxhall Drive home in Hawks Prairie.

Sheriff’s detectives have said the two attacks occurred within hours of each other.

Both Simpson and Austin were stabbed repeatedly. In each case, the stabbing weapon was found at the scene, Thurston County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Brady has said.

Austin’s husband came home from work about 4 p.m. Monday to find his wife dead. Austin’s husband told detectives he immediately suspected Lewis, Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin has said.

At the time Austin’s body was discovered, sheriff’s detectives were already looking for Lewis, because a witness saw a truck with a license plate number registered in Lewis’ name in Simpson’s driveway Monday.

Detectives arrested Lewis while he was driving his pickup just across the street from his mother’s home. A prosecutor said in court Tuesday that Austin’s husband feared Lewis might have wanted to kill him as well.

On Thursday, a former colleague of Austin’s in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s equal opportunity office said staff members are in a state of shock over her death.

“From all the colleagues I know who know her, they’re in such shock and disbelief because she was such a good-hearted person,” former colleague Eric Harvey said. Harvey said Austin had recently retired from JBLM.

“I find it hard to speak about her in the past tense,” Harvey added. “Everybody cared for her, and she will be sorely missed.”

JBLM spokesman Joe Piek confirmed that Austin’s widower, John, is a retired sergeant major for the base who still works there.

“They’ve been part of the JBLM community for a very long time,” Piek said. “The tragic news of Frankie’s death really shocked many people. Our hearts are really poured out for (her husband) and the rest of the family.”

Following Simpson’s death, Thurston County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Toynbee formally charged Lewis with two counts of first-degree murder Thursday afternoon. Prior to Simpson’s death, Toynbee had planned to file a first-degree murder and a first-degree assault charge.

Additionally, Lewis was charged with first-degree robbery for allegedly stealing a ring from his mother and other items from her home, Toynbee said.

Lewis also was charged with a count of first-degree animal cruelty for allegedly killing his mother’s dog, a Yorkshire terrier, and discarding it in a compost bin.

Lewis was being held Thursday at the Thurston County Jail with bail set at $2 million.

He was to undergo a safe-to-be-at-large psychological evaluation.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445

The News Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service