A Milton woman only lived in her new apartment two days before her ex-boyfriend killed her, police said.
Wendi Traynor, 25, and Joshua Ellis, 27, dated for two years and experienced more than their fair share of ups and downs.
Traynor told a friend Ellis hit her twice and “threatened to harm her family if she tried to leave him,” court records show.
The couple moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in June but Traynor left three times. Ellis persuaded her to come back twice. On her last departure in October, Traynor returned to Washington and stayed with relatives while searching for her own place.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
She moved into an apartment in the 2800 block of Queens Way on Nov. 1. Her family last heard from her Nov. 3 when she sent a text message saying she was going to meet up with her “ex.”
After nearly a week of not hearing from Traynor, her father, uncle and aunt went to her apartment Friday and found her dead near the front door.
Forensic examiners determined she died of a single gunshot to the head. A shell casing was found near her body.
On Tuesday, Pierce County prosecutors charged Ellis with second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty at arraignment, and Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered him held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Court records did not list an attorney for him.
“I thought she was a little bit afraid of him,” Jerry Traynor, her father, told KIRO-TV. “She wanted to get away.”
Detectives believe Traynor was killed Nov. 3.
A friend called Ellis before her body was discovered to ask if he’d seen her. Ellis “seemed very nervous,” according to charging papers.
Police were able to quickly find Ellis’ car because it was repossessed Nov. 5. They said they found an empty handgun holster and ammunition that matches the casing found in Traynor’s apartment.
Cellphone records also allegedly show Ellis was near Traynor’s apartment on the night she died.
Ellis turned himself in Sunday and was taken into custody.
Traynor had a degree from Central Washington University and was hoping to work in the criminal justice system.
“She was beautiful. She was wonderful. She had an infectious laugh and a great sense of humor,” Jerry Traynor told KIRO. “She was sassy, witty. I’m just going to miss giving her a hug when she comes over.”
Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653