Last month, authorities say, a 26-year-old Tacoma-area man threatened to kill his wife and then tried to hang himself.
Wednesday, he again tried to hang himself, this time after killing his 2-year-old daughter in her bedroom, Pierce County sheriff’s deputies allege.
The toddler, whose second birthday was last week, suffocated when her father squeezed her to his chest, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. Officials did not release the child’s name.
The man was arrested. The News Tribune generally does not name suspects until they are charged with a crime.
Troyer gave this account of what happened Wednesday:
The man called 911 about 11 a.m. and told dispatchers he’d killed his daughter. When sheriff’s detectives arrived at the Woodmark apartment complex at 2425 96th St. S. they found the man trying to kill himself.
“He had a rope tied around his neck and his oxygen was cut off,” Troyer said. “We cut him down.”
The little girl’s mother arrived home about 2 p.m.
“That’s my daughter!” the woman screamed as a chaplain rushed to comfort her. She then collapsed on the ground.
Deputies were called to the couple’s apartment Jan. 11 after the man allegedly threatened to kill his wife of four years. He had found social media messages he disapproved of, Troyer said. He allegedly tried to hang himself after that incident, prompting a day of involuntary commitment at a local mental health facility.
On Wednesday, signs of children were plentiful at the apartment complex – a wooden playground toward the back, an overturned kiddie pool, a tricycle on a porch. Parents wait at the front gate for the school bus each day.
Randie Bell was keeping eye out for her sons, 7 and 10, who were returning from school.
“It’s just sad,” said Bell, 31.
“It’s beyond sad,” said a friend, who declined to give his name.
Deputies were still at the apartments when the children got off the bus about 3 p.m.
“Who in the hell kills your kid?” 50-year-old Allen Fick wondered aloud from the neighboring apartment complex where he lives.
He stood on a patio a couple hundred feet and across the fence from where the police tape was. Standing with him, neighbor Danielle Green, 32, said they had heard the mother’s screams Wednesday when she learned of her daughter’s death.
They said they frequently see the children who live in the other apartments, especially in the summer.
“You’ll see a line of kids walking along the fence, and they go into our pool,” she said. “They’re not really supposed to, but no one says anything – they’re kids.”
Editor's note: We have removed a previously posted photograph of the child's grieving mother. We understand the photograph of this tragic event made many of our readers uncomfortable, and we didn't see the need for it to be posted after the news event has passed.