Tacoma teen allegedly used cane to kill father during argument

Staff writerJune 11, 2014 

UPDATE as of 9:30 p.m. The body found was that of Richard Salzman, 49 of Tacoma, who died of blunt force injury to his head, the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office said. His death was a homicide, according to the office.

INITIAL POST: A 16-year-old Tacoma boy suspected of killing his father told police he struck his dad in the head with a cane after being shoved during an argument.

Pierce County deputy prosecutor Kevin Benton on Wednesday asked that the teen be held in Remann Hall Detention Center until a charging decision can be made. The teen could be charged Friday with second-degree murder. The News Tribune is not naming the boy because he has not been charged with a crime.

The teen called 911 Tuesday morning and told dispatchers he’d killed his 49-year-old father and buried him on the family’s property in the 1900 block of South Madison Street.

Police immediately responded and detained the boy, who was waiting for them in the driveway. He refused to speak with detectives or tell them where the body was hidden.

Investigators found the dad’s body in a wooden compost box beside the garage. Also inside the box was a cut up bicycle.

A motive has not yet been determined. The Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy Wednesday but said they will not release the victim's name or cause of death until Thursday.

The teen's mother told police she’d argued with her drunken husband on the telephone late Friday and decided to sleep at the home of a family member. She returned home after her son called to say his dad had ridden away on his bicycle. When she awoke the next day and her husband had not returned, she reported him missing to Tacoma police.

The mom told detectives her son "seemed calm and reassured her it wasn't her fault and they would be OK," according to court documents.

On Monday, the mother suggested they organize a search party for her missing husband. She told police her son then became “nervous” and “anxious” and asked that no one come over to the house. He “asked that she not make any more calls and that they just spend some time together,” records show.

When she persisted with the idea of a search crew Tuesday morning, the teen allegedly confessed what had happened and called police.

He told police he’d overheard his parents arguing on the phone Friday and made a comment to his father, who then shoved him to the ground. The teen allegedly said he struck his dad in the head once with a cane and then hid his body in the compost box.

Officers noted that there was no sign of injury on the boy when he was taken into custody.

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