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Originally published Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 6:35 PM

AWOL soldier charged in Kirkland knife slaying

A 19-year-old soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in connection with the random attack on a Kirkland woman with a butcher knife on Nov. 30.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes RIP, glad they caught him. Read more
quotes Knife attackers often cut themselves - which is why Wolf had a knife wound on his leg. ... Read more
quotes A "The Today File" article on the Seattle Times website had the probable... Read more

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A 19-year-old soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in connection with the random attack on a Kirkland woman with a butcher knife on Nov. 30.

DNA evidence, fingerprints, video surveillance footage, bloody clothing and a particular brand of knife helped police connect the slaying of 19-year-old Scarlett Paxton to Dakota Wolf, a soldier who was staying at a friend's house less than 1 ½ miles from Paxton's apartment building, according to the charges filed by King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Wolf was arrested and turned over to the Army for being absent without leave (AWOL) within 24 hours of Paxton's slaying, charging papers say. A $2 million arrest warrant was issued Thursday for Wolf, who was to be transferred from base corrections facility to the King County Jail, said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

"It appears that this violent, brutal, and protracted attack was unprovoked and random," charging papers say. "It further appears that the defendant, previously having armed himself with a large chef's knife, initially attacked the victim in one location then chased her to her apartment complex where he completed his attack."

At the time of Paxton's death, Wolf had been AWOL from his Army unit for about a month, the third time he'd gone AWOL, charging documents say.

On Nov. 28, Wolf called his friend's family and asked if it was OK to stay at their house after Wolf had a falling out with his mother, the papers say. The homeowners consented and Wolf moved into a basement bedroom.

Around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 30, Paxton and her boyfriend left their apartment complex in Juanita for an early morning walk. About 10 minutes into the walk, Paxton became upset with her boyfriend, took his keys and began walking home, charging papers say.

The boyfriend continued his walk and when he returned to the apartment complex just before 3 a.m., he found Paxton slumped over in front of their apartment, they say.

He called 911 and medics arrived to find the boyfriend performing CPR on Paxton, who was dead from a knife wound to her neck, charging papers say. She also suffered defensive wounds to her hands, the papers say. A Cutco brand butcher knife was found near where Paxton had collapsed, they say.

Investigators later found bloody prints and a blood trail that began in an alley way behind a nearby Albertson's supermarket and led to the apartment complex, charging documents say. Blood led from Paxton's apartment to a unit across the hall and continued down the stairs to the doors of two other units.

Hours after Paxton was found, the homeowners of the residence where Wolf was staying contacted officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. They expressed concern that Wolf — who had allegedly shown intense interest in media coverage of the homicide and had visited the murder scene at least twice after Paxton's death — was somehow involved in the slaying, charging papers say.

Military officials contacted Kirkland police, who took Wolf into custody in the basement bedroom, where investigators found bloody clothing and several Cutco knives and an empty knife sheath that matched the alleged murder weapon, the papers say. Wolf also had an apparent knife wound on his leg.

DNA tests revealed that Paxton's blood was found on a pair of gray pants taken from Wolf's room; her blood and Wolf's prints were also found on the rear wall of the Albertson's, charging papers say.

Video surveillance footage from nearby businesses showed a male who appeared to be Wolf walking in the area, according to charging papers, which note that, "No other subjects were seen taking the same route during the time frame of Paxton's murder."

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

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