A fugitive sex offender from California suspected of beating two men to death in their Frederickson-area home told detectives he thought the victims had shown “grooming behavior” toward boys, court records show.
Richard Earl Atkisson, 40, has not yet been charged in the deaths of the men, whose bodies were discovered Sunday by a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy verifying the addresses of registered sex offenders.
One of the victims, a 66-year-old man, was required to register his address with authorities after being convicted of a sex crime, also in California, and it was his address the deputy was verifying, authorities said.
The names of the dead men have not been released.
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On Monday, Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Martin ordered Atkisson held without bail until Wednesday when prosecutors are expected to charge him with two counts of murder.
Martin also entered a plea of not guilty on Atkisson’s behalf to a charge of being a fugitive from justice.
He’s currently wanted on a warrant out of California for failing to register as a sex offender after being convicted of rape and sodomy, records from that state show.
Atkisson apparently had been living with the two victims in a house in the 7700 block of 200th Street East for about a year.
A deputy who went to that address to check up on the 66-year-old man found Atikisson’s roommates dead and discovered one of their cars missing, court records show.
He radioed the car’s description to emergency dispatchers, who alerted other law enforcement officers.
Deputies found the car near South 96th and Hosmer streets later Sunday and arrested Atkisson, who was standing near the car with three other men, records show.
He was interviewed and allegedly confessed to beating his roommates to death with a pipe. He also said he planned the killings for at least day, records show.
“While living there, he observed what he characterized as ‘grooming behavior’ towards boys from (the victims),” according to a declaration of probable cause filed in court Monday by deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer.
“He stated that they began talking to Mr. Atkisson about bringing his son here. Mr. Atkisson told detectives that he decided that he was going to kill both men.”
Sheriff’s detective Sgt. Jerry Bates said Monday that authorities have no information that the victims were grooming boys for sex.
Atkisson said he started with the older man, striking him repeatedly with a pipe. The other victim heard what was happening and entered the room.
Atkisson said he then beat him with the same pipe, court records show, and later cinched a plastic bag around the older man’s head when he didn’t immediately die.