Robbery suspect may have preyed on elderly, police say

EVERETT — An Everett man faces a growing stack of criminal cases alleging that he victimized elderly people, one of whom died weeks after being beaten and robbed outside a gas station.

The investigation has now spread beyond Everett to south Snohomish County, where the suspect may have posed as a maintenance worker to get inside a victim’s home.

Anyone who had any contact with suspect Patrick Hartness, 26, or who have may have seen him in their neighborhood should call detectives, Everett police officer Aaron Snell said Friday.

“If we knew about that, it would be a good starting point for us,” he said.

Hartness initially was arrested after the Aug. 24 mugging of Harold Caywood, 91, who was punched with brass knuckles, knocked down and robbed outside a south Everett gas station. He died Oct. 4 at a nursing home.

Hartness in September was charged with first-degree robbery. He could face more serious charges if Caywood’s death is deemed a homicide. Autopsy results aren’t expected for several weeks.

In the weeks since the robbery, the Everett police Major Crimes Unit believes it has developed evidence linking Hartness to a series of burglaries and other crimes targeting older victims, Snell said.

They believe Hartness identified people in their 80s and 90s to steal their checks and credit cards, Snell said. He and others then allegedly would cash the stolen checks and withdraw money using the cards.

Details on two new cases against Hartness were released Friday.

One involves a burglary reported Aug. 17 in Everett. An 88-year-old man returned from visiting his 92-year-old wife in the hospital to find their home ransacked, Snell said.

Missing was all of their jewelry, a computer, the wife’s purse and mementos from the man’s service in World War II, Snell said.

“He was in the war, and he brought home memorabilia from the war, and that’s what was taken,” Snell said.

Credit cards taken in that burglary were used to make purchases that led them to Hartness, in addition to other evidence, Snell said. They’ve recommended prosecutors charge him with identity theft in that case.

Two more burglaries of elderly victims happened in Mountlake Terrace.

Hartness allegedly got into one home there by convincing the victim he was a maintenance worker. Police say he somehow distracted her while stealing credit cards.

In another case in that city, Hartness allegedly snuck into a home and stole items while the victims were in another room.

Anyone who has information should call 425-257-8450, Snell said.

“We know that he’s victimized other people, and if additional people have been victimized, then we would like to have him prosecuted for those crimes,” Snell said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

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