Man was helping others at time of his death

MUKILTEO — Kenneth Westphal believed in second chances.

He knew some people just needed a hand to help them turn the corner toward a different path. Westphal, 57, a recovering alcoholic, often offered his hand to men and women battling addictions.

He provided them an affordable place to live and encouragement to reclaim their lives, as he had done.

“He had acquired 13 years of sobriety and in doing so helped many, many others recover from a seemingly hopeless state,” his son Ralph Westphal said.

Ken Westphal’s work abruptly came to end a dozen years ago.

He was found dead inside his Mukilteo house on Beverly Park Road in 1996. He died from a blow to the head. Some of his property was taken. The homicide remains unsolved.

Westphal is featured on the two of spades in the state’s first deck of cold-case playing cards. Thousands of decks of cards have been handed out in prisons and jails in hopes that inmates will come forward with information to help solve homicides and missing persons cases dating back to the 1970s.

Cold-case cards have helped detectives in Florida solve at least a handful of homicides. Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives are hoping for similar success here.

So are dozens of families.

“We believe a person should be held accountable for their actions,” Ralph Westphal said. “Even if it only helps one family get closure it is well worth it.”

His father was proud of his involvement in Alcoholic Anonymous, his son said. The 12-step program had helped him “recover his life from the ruins of alcohol,” Ralph Westphal said.

Along the way, Ken Westphal discovered that people in the early stages of recovery from addiction need an affordable place to live and support from others, his son said. Several years before his death, Westphal founded a nonprofit housing agency called There Is A Solution Foundation.

He offered clean-and-sober houses in the Everett and Edmonds areas. Westphal was assisting more than 70 people at the time of his death, his son said.

The family hopes their dad will be given another chance. This time, for justice.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or

About this series

Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives created the state’s first deck of cold-case playing cards. Each Sunday for a year, The Herald is publishing a story about a case featured on one of the cards. The 52 cards can be viewed at

Anyone with information about unsolved homicides or missing persons cases is asked to call 800-222-TIPS (8477). Up to a $1,000 reward is offered.

Tips also can be left on the sheriff’s tip line at 425-388-3845. Callers may remain anonymous, although tips have been more successful when callers speak with detectives, police said.

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