Murder Charges Filed in Slaying of Kirkland's Scarlett Paxton

Kirkland Police identify the suspect as Dakota M. Wolf, a soldier in custody at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.


Charges of first-degree murder were filed Thursday against a soldier in custody at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Dakota Miles Wolf, 19, in the  of Kirkland.

Kirkland Police said in a news release Thursday evening that an arrest warrant had been issued for Wolf and they are working with military officials to transfer custody of him. Kirkland Police earlier had identified Wolf as a person of interest in the death of 19-year-old Paxton, who died of neck wounds early on the morning of Nov. 30 outside her apartment in north Juanita.

A soldier in the U.S. Army for about one year, Wolf has been in the corrections facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord since Nov. 30 for repeatedly going absent without leave.

Charging documents filed by the King County Prosecutor’s Office indicate Wolf had been staying at a home in north Juanita not far from the murder scene, owned by the parents of a friend. They allege a bloody palm and fingerprint found in an alley near the apartment complex, the Hidden Firs along 100th Avenue NE, matched Wolf’s. 

Kirkland Police located Wolf on the day of the murder after they were contacted by Army officials at Lewis-McChord, according to the charging documents, who had been in contact with the owner of the home were Wolf was staying. The military officials told Kirkland Police the homeowners thought Wolf might have been involved in a murder.

Armed with a search warrant, police recovered bloody clothing from the basement level room where the soldier had been staying, and discovered Wolf had sustained a cut wound to the leg.

The documents also state that a butcher knife found at the murder scene was the same brand as several knives found at the home where Wolf was staying. They also say that while denying being involved, Wolf acknowledged being in the general area at the time of the murder.

The King County Medical Examiner's office said Paxton died of wounds to her neck, and the charging documents indicate she also sustained cuts to her leg, chin and left hand, the latter consistent with defensive wounds.

As reported earlier, Paxton and her boyfriend had left their shared apartment in the early morning hours of Nov. 30 to go for a walk, and the documents indicate they had parted at some point due to a disagreement. When Paxton's boyfriend, 19-year-old Michael Lawson, returned to the apartment complex at about 2:50 a.m., he found Paxton slumped on the stairway to their unit, unresponsive and not breathing.

Police have said Lawson is not a suspect and has been cooperative during the investigation.

Kirkland Police said in the news release they continue to investigate the murder and are exploring any link between Paxton and Wolf. Earlier this week they said that none had been established. However, they told  is from the area, and a web search indicates he is a 2010 graduate of Juanita High School.

Paxton was a longtime Kirkland resident, having attended Kirkland Junior High and BEST High School in Houghton.

Wolf is scheduled for formal arraignment Dec. 28 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle, and a preliminary bail has been set at $2 million. The charge carries a sentencing range of 22 to 28 years in prison.


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