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Originally published Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 9:22 AM

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Suspect in Kent slaying arrested in Northern California

Shawn David Gulseth, who is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in her Kent apartment three weeks ago, was camping under a bridge in a tiny Northern California town when he was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a first-degree-murder warrant, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Shawn David Gulseth, who is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in her Kent apartment three weeks ago, was camping under a bridge in a Northern California town when he was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a first-degree-murder warrant, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, a California Highway Patrol (CHP) dispatcher sent a bulletin to officers, advising them that Gulseth — wanted on a $1.5 million warrant — might be hiding out near Willits, a town of approximately 5,000 people that's roughly 200 miles north of San Francisco, said CHP Sgt. Dan Fansler.

CHP Officer John Heinke had Gulseth in handcuffs less than three hours later, Fansler said.

"I'm really proud of him. He went above and beyond, and it paid off," Fansler said of Heinke.

Fansler said Heinke followed up on some information included in the police bulletin and learned from an acquaintance that Gulseth had been dropped off at a restaurant in Willits early Tuesday, Fansler said. The acquaintance mentioned that Gulseth was looking for work as a tattoo artist and was camping underneath a nearby bridge, he said.

When Heinke and two officers from the nearby Ukiah Police Department confronted Gulseth beneath the bridge, he gave the officers a phony name, but Heinke positively identified the 40-year-old Washington man based on the distinctive tattoos on his body, Fansler said.

"He was cooperative but confused," Fansler said of Gulseth.

Gulseth was booked into the Mendocino County Jail pending his extradition to Washington.

Gulseth is accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend, Bonnie Peterson, inside her apartment at 25811 110th Ave. S.E. in Kent on Dec. 20 after she tried to get him to leave, according to charging documents filed in King County Superior Court.

After the slaying, Gulseth allegedly tried to get into cars on nearby Kent Kangley Road in an apparent attempt to escape, charging documents say. Surveillance video from a bank on Kent Kangley Road showed Gulseth wearing mismatched shoes, one gray and one white and black; police found the matches for the shoes near Peterson's body in her apartment, the papers say.

When Peterson, 45, didn't show up for work on Dec. 21, friends went to check on her and called 911 after finding her body, charging papers say. Bloody fingerprints that were matched to Gulseth also were found in her apartment, according to the documents.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

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