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Crime News Murders

Washington Landlord Guilty In 2020 Suitcase Slayings Of Tenant Couple

The bodies of Jessica Lewis and Austin Wenner were found inside a suitcase by a TikTok user on a scavenger hunt.

By Dorian Geiger
Police Lights Night G

A Seattle landlord who murdered two of his tenants and disposed of their remains in a suitcase was convicted on all charges.

Mike Dudley was found guilty of second-degree murder on Thursday for the killings of Jessica Lewis and Austin Wenner, the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office announced, Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO news reported. Dudley’s sentencing is scheduled for March 10. 

On June 19, 2020, a pair of teenagers filming a TikTok video discovered a piece of luggage with a “foul odor” coming from it at Duwamish Head, a scenic area along Elliott Bay, according to the Seattle Police Department.

The mutilated remains of Lewis and Wenner were later discovered inside, police said. The couple had been fatally shot roughly 10 days prior. Prosecutors said that Dudley later jammed the couple’s bodies into multiple suitcases and bags, which he dumped in the Puget Sound.

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“This process would have taken a lot of time and effort and his willingness to take these extreme steps demonstrates the threat he poses to the community,” charging documents, cited by King 5 News, stated.

Dudley was later identified as the couple’s landlord. According to reports, Lewis and Wenner, who were staying in a room at Dudley’s Burien residence, had gotten into a dispute with their landlord over rent money, court documents stated, King 5 News previously reported.

Witnesses told law enforcement they heard yelling and gunshots ringing out from the rental property Wenner and Lewis were staying at. When neighbors reportedly knocked on the door, no one answered. Authorities later found blood and bullet holes after searching the property. 

At trial, Dudley, who maintained his innocence, admitted to mistakenly firing off a firearm inside his property, but refuted prosecutors’ allegations that he’d discharged the gun in the area where bullet holes were found at the home.

A woman who was staying with Dudley later alleged she’d seen a blood-stained hand poking out from underneath a pile of dirty clothes at the Seattle landlord’s house. Cell phone data further linked him to the couple’s deadly shooting.

Authorities initially speculated that more than one person had been involved in the couple’s killing due to the “disorganized” manner in which Wenner and Lewis’ body were dismembered, according to a forensic anthropologist cited in case documents.

Following Dudley’s conviction, the slain couple's families voiced relief.

"It had been a rollercoaster ride for 2 1/2 years,” Lewis’ aunt Gina Jaschke said, Westside Seattle reported. “We are relieved and thankful that a jury of his peers were able to sit back and put the pieces of his diabolical puzzle together ... Our families will never fill the empty void without them that our hearts will always have, but at least now we can truly start the healing process."

Lewis’ family described her as a “beautiful” person “inside and out.”

"The world is a safer place without Michael Dudley in it," Wenner’s mother Charleen Kriens said, King 5 News reported. "Everybody can rest easy tonight because of that."

Kriens added: "My son is shining down from up above and saying, 'You got it mom.'"

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