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A transient Washington man allegedly shot a suspected thief, tied the man to his truck by a rope, then dragged him through a field before abandoning him there to die earlier this week, police said.
Michael Campbell, 54, is accused of second-degree murder in the killing of a man who he alleged tried to steal parts from his truck.
On June 12, emergency dispatchers received a report of a white Ford F-150 dragging an “unknown object” through a business parking lot in Lakewood around 3:46 a.m., according to a probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com.
Investigators discovered the victim in a nearby field. The man, who was unidentified by law enforcement, had “obvious signs” of trauma to his body, including injuries consistent with being dragged. He also sustained two visible gunshot wounds to his lower abdomen and torso, according to authorities.
Campbell was apprehended near the scene after he reportedly drove by in his Ford. A witness later identified him as the driver of the truck seen dragging the object, which is believed to have been the victim.
Under questioning, Campbell accused the man of trying to saw off his truck’s catalytic converter. He claimed he’d been sleeping in his truck when he was awoken by the suspected thief and he then opened the door and saw legs sticking out from underneath the vehicle, the probable cause statement says. Campbell, who was armed, then fired multiple shots at the man.
The alleged thief then attempted to crawl out from underneath the truck and get into his own vehicle. However, at that point, he collapsed, according to Campbell; he told police that he then tied the man up with a rope.
“He lashed the victim’s hands above his head and tied him to the ball hitch on his F-150 then dragged him through the field,” officers wrote in the probable cause statement.
Campbell later unhitched the man from his truck and left him in the field, according to law enforcement. The victim was still alive when he sped off, Campbell told authorities.
Investigators said they located a “significant amount of blood in the gravel lot.” Blood was also found in Campbell’s Ford F-150, including on his seat and seatbelt, as well as on the vehicle’s exterior.
Authorities later seized a nine-millimeter pistol from Campbell’s truck, as well as a green rope that matched that which was collected from the field where the victim’s body was discovered.
Campbell, who police described as “transient,” was known to sleep in the cab of his truck in the parking lot of a nearby auto business. An employee for the company told investigators the accused man was sometimes paid to watch the property by its owner.
Campbell was charged with kidnapping and second-degree murder. He has previous felony convictions and is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, police said; He was arraigned on June 14, according to court records. A judge ordered a competency exam ahead of his next hearing.
"This means that there is reason to doubt my client’s ability to assist in his defense or understand the nature of the charges against him," defense attorney Aaron Talney told Oxygen.com on Wednesday.
Campbell is scheduled back in court on June 28. He was booked into a Pierce County detention center on June 12, according to online jail records. He’s being held without bail.
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