Crime

Woman found dead in Spanaway home with children inside

A 28-year-old Spanaway woman found dead Tuesday inside her home with her four children locked inside was trying to escape an abusive marriage, court records show.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the woman as Jennifer Reichardt of Spanaway, and had not yet determined how she died. Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the woman died of trauma but did not elaborate.

A neighbor called 911 just before 9 a.m. to express concern that something was wrong inside the victim’s two-story home in the 2400 block of 195th Street East.

Sheriff’s deputies responded and saw the children peering at them through a window. When the kids refused to open the front door, the deputies forced their way inside and found Reichardt’s body in her bedroom.

The children apparently did not witness their mother’s death, Troyer said. They were placed with Child Protective Services until a family member can be found.

The children — three girls and one boy — are 7, 4, 3 and 1.

Reichardt was last seen Monday night. Detectives said there was activity on her social media accounts and cellphone through Tuesday morning but declined to say what the messages entailed.

She was divorcing her husband of seven years and filed for an emergency restraining order against him in July.

Investigators spoke with the estranged husband, and he is not a suspect in the death at this time, Troyer said.

“It’s a suspicious death,” Troyer said. “With the history, we’re taking a look at everybody. We’re not ruling anybody in or out at this point. We found him, we talked to him, and we’re moving forward with the investigation.”

Deputies had been called to the couple’s home in the past for domestic violence incidents, Troyer said.

Reichardt’s husband tracked her obsessively online, repeatedly accused her of cheating and assaulted her with a chair while she was pregnant, according to a declaration Reichardt filed Aug. 15 in Pierce County Superior Court. 

The statement was part of a petition for domestic violence protection, originally filed in July. The order, granted by the court, remains active through August 2015.

Reichardt also requested and received a police escort in July to gather items from the couple's home.

They met in 2005, Reichardt stated. She said her husband is Dutch, and they lived in the Netherlands for a time before coming to the United States in 2012.

Reichardt said she called local police after one incident in the Netherlands, enraging her husband. She described a history of controlling behavior.

“He recorded all of my calls and emails, had cameras in our house, etc.,” the woman wrote.

“He had all of my emails forwarded to his email, placed a ‘keyboard sniffer’ on my computer so he could see every keystroke I made and so that he could remotely access the computer, and he had a recording in the house of all I did and said during the day while he worked.

“... I was scared and overwhelmed, and he manipulated me to think that the kids and I could not survive without him.”

Reichardt’s declaration describes multiple assaults that led to police involvement, as well as an incident that left one of the children with a broken ankle.

The most recent incident led to the petition she filed in July.

She said her husband punched her in the jaw. She tried to defend herself with a baseball bat, but she was holding one of her children in her arms; and her husband took the bat away from her.

Neighbors heard the commotion and called police. The husband fled.

“I am convinced that he planned to kill us all that night,” Reichardt wrote. “I found out that he has taken out life insurance policies on the kids and me. He also stopped paying the bills months ago, despite telling me he was paying. He was stashing the money.”

On Tuesday, neighbors stood together outside their homes, mourning a woman they said was sweet but caught in a terrible situation.

Many in the area were alerted to the couple’s marriage problems after the woman received a restraining order and it was brought up at a community meeting.

“We were asked to keep an eye and be vigilant,” said neighbor Bryan Waters, who said a death in the neighborhood was scary. “It’s very disconcerting something like this can happen so close to home.”

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