DNA on popsicle sticks leads to burglary suspect

MUKILTEO — Here’s what we already know about Joseph Medoro.

The frequent felon likes his dope, he’s prone to stealing anything that isn’t bolted to the floor, and he seems hard-wired to run from the cops, even if the attempted escape puts others at risk of injury or death.

Now comes word that Mukilteo police believe Medoro likes to snack on popsicles while in the middle of a burglary.

How do they know?

Tests show his DNA was found on popsicle sticks that were part of the mess left behind when burglars hit a Mukilteo home in July 2012, according to Snohomish County Superior Court records.

The treats were stolen out of a downstairs freezer at the home and apparently eaten while thieves were tossing an in-home office for business records.

Deputy prosecutor Walt Sowa on Friday charged Medoro with residential burglary.

The former Duvall man, 32, already is behind bars, serving an eight-year sentence for trying to run over a Bothell police officer during a traffic stop on July 17, 2012.

In that case, the officer was able to jump to safety and get off a shot. Medoro led police on a car chase around south Snohomish County before he dumped his Pontiac and tried to hide in the woods near Mill Creek.

When a police dog tracked him down, Medoro reportedly was carrying nearly $4,000 in cash. In his backpack, detectives reported finding more than a half-pound of heroin, a loaded handgun, meth, marijuana, scales and other drug paraphernalia.

The Mukilteo burglary occurred 10 days before Medoro’s 2012 arrest.

If convicted of the new charge, he’s looking at an additional five to seven years in prison. It would be Medoro’s 17th felony, a criminal history he started building at 15. Medoro so far hasn’t risked a life sentence under the state’s “three-strikes” law because most of his crimes are classified as nonviolent. They involved drugs, stolen property and three police chases.

The burglars who hit in Mukilteo not only trashed the house, they also walked away with one of the owners’ cars, their jewelry, their financial records and a collection of miniature clocks that had been gathered at vacation spots visited by the couple over the years.

The owners were away when the break-in occurred. A neighbor summoned police. A stolen car was parked nearby.

The owners returned to deal with the burglary. They found the popsicle sticks while cleaning up. They placed the potential evidence in baggies and brought it to Mukilteo police.

Officer Joe Hamilton took the initial burglary report. He booked the sticks into evidence. Once dry, they were sent to the state crime lab to test for genetic evidence left by the burglars as they ate the popsicles.

Meanwhile, Mukilteo detective John Ernst learned that the couple’s stolen 1999 Acura had turned up outside a Mountlake Terrace motel.

Police there on July 9 arrested Karrie A. Coates, 30. She’d recently been released from the King County Jail and reportedly tried to run from officers who approached her about the stolen car. At the time, she was Medoro’s girlfriend, court papers said.

A search of the car turned up a note that appeared to have been written by Coates to Medoro, complaining about his having not left her a shaved key to start the rig, court papers said. A search of Coates and the motel room where she was staying turned up pilfered iPads, an apparently stolen smartphone and a big-screen TV.

Financial records for the Mukilteo couple, some of their jewelry and at least one of the stolen clocks also reportedly were found.

Inside the stolen car, police discovered a plastic storage container with a baggie of suspected meth inside. The woman whose home was hit in Mukilteo told police “she had used identical containers to hold her craft supplies. The supplies and containers were stolen during the burglary,” according to an affidavit prepared by Ernst.

Coates also is in trouble for what happened in Mukilteo. On Friday, she too was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and second-degree identity theft. She also was charged with an April 2012 auto theft. In that case, Coates’ DNA allegedly was found on cigarette butts inside the vehicle when it was recovered two months after being stolen.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com.

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