A Tacoma man desperate for somewhere he and his wife could live is accused of killing a man and hiding his body in a shed so the couple could move into the victim’s house near Renton.
Jeremy Shaw, 39, is charged with first-degree murder, residential burglary and arson in last week’s death of 67-year-old Steven Morphis. Shaw’s wife, Lorena, 37, is charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance, residential burglary and arson.
Morphis was found Thursday in his shed with his wrists and ankles bound and his body wrapped in a comforter and tarp. A freshly dug hole resembling a grave was found at the base of a deck.
King County medical examiners said Morphis died from blunt force trauma to the head. His throat was cut as well.
Court documents give this account:
After Morphis’ body was discovered, investigators found his bank card was missing and somebody had tried to make a $4,100 payment to a Tacoma company. The company was registered to Jeremy Shaw.
A search of Shaw’s Tacoma home turned up the victim’s bank card, which had been shredded, and his driver’s license.
The victim’s car was found burned in a University Place parking lot.
When interviewed by detectives, Jeremy Shaw admitted to being at Morphis’ house to do an estimate for a possible job. He denied killing him, but said he did steal several items after finding the door unlocked.
Lorena Shaw told invesigators a different story.
She she her husband often uses methamphetamine and told her he approached Morphis at his home with a “military type petition” so he could obtain the victim’s signature and get a good look at the property, which isn’t visible from the road.
Prosecutors allege Jeremy Shaw pepper sprayed the victim, bashed him on the head and hid his body in the shed.
He then brought his wife to the property, telling her he’d found them a place to live.
Lorena Shaw “said that while at the house, Jeremy told her she couldn’t go in the garage — that she didn’t want to see what was in there,” records state.
She later said she assumed that meant Morphis was dead.