ARLINGTON — Dick Cress has spent the last 25 years waiting.
He waited for his son Patrick Cress, 13, in the parking lot of a grocery store. The boy had spent the night at a friend’s house and planned to meet his parents at the Juanita Firs Safeway near their Kingsgate area home near Kirkland. Patrick didn’t show up. That was April 30, 1983.
Dick Cress waited for King County sheriff’s deputies to find his son and bring him home. He knew the boy hadn’t run away. Cress and his wife, Kate, canvassed the neighborhood and searched for any sign of their son.
Nearly three weeks later, on May 18, 1983, an electric company worker discovered Patrick’s body at a construction site near NE 132nd Street and 116th Way NE, only a few hundred yards south of the house where Patrick had stayed the night.
The boy had been beaten to death.
Devastated, Dick Cress waited for police to catch whoever killed his son. He wanted to see the killer behind bars. He needed answers.
The Arlington man is still waiting.
King County sheriff’s detectives on Monday released new details about the 1983 slaying in hopes of generating new leads in an investigation that turned cold years ago.
“I need to get something rolling in this case,” detective Mike Mellis said.
Mellis took over the investigation about two years ago. He has interviewed dozens of people and pored through the case file. The detective learned that teenagers in the neighborhood at the time of the killing had passed around rumors about the slaying before Patrick’s body was found. The rumors, which police heard while still searching for the boy, included details about the beating and where it happened.
Some of the details in the rumors turned out to be true. That means someone blabbed or witnessed the beating or both. In 1983, detectives were unable to track down the source of the rumors, Mellis said.
Maybe they were afraid to speak up then, Mellis speculated. They might even be parents of a teenager now, and feel inclined to help another parent, he said.
Mellis also believes those who heard the rumors in 1983 may have more information that could help in the investigation. Those people likely attended Kamiakin Junior High or Juanita High School and are now in their late 30s or early 40s.
Mellis also would like to track down information about a note he found in the case file. No police paperwork was found to show who wrote the note, where it came from or what sort of follow-up was done.
The note was scribbled on school notebook paper and read: “To Michelle, From Kim, It’s important! It’s a slight possibility the police don’t know yet so don’t tell ‘cause that might be wrong.”
Police don’t have a suspect in the slaying, Mellis said. Over the years, police have given polygraphs to potential suspects. Some of those people were ruled out in Patrick’s slaying.
“I don’t believe some bogeyman came out of the woods, kidnapped and killed him,” Mellis said. “The more likely scenario is he met up with an acquaintance and something happened.”
Dick Cress also believes someone holds a key piece of information that could give him the answers he’s been waiting for since his son was killed.
“I want to tickle someone’s guilt. Someone knows something,” Cress said. “I want them to look at their own children and ask themselves what they would have wanted for their own kids.”
Shortly after his son was killed, Cress walked away from what he called a dream job in architecture. He couldn’t take the stress. He struggled to help his three children, then 18, 14 and 10, to cope with the death of their brother. His two youngest children eventually dropped out of school. His wife died 10 years later from complications of breast cancer. The doctors told Cress her cancer was connected to stress, he said.
Over the last 25 years, Cress, now retired, has become an advocate for violent crime victims and survivors. He’s lived in Arlington for more than 15 years. He runs a Web site to reach out to others and offer his advice. He calls those who contact him his “clients.” He’s written a book and presented papers about the effects of losing a loved one to violence.
Cress doesn’t believe he’ll ever have closure. There is no closing the door on the loss of his son, he said. The hurt is always there. The best he can hope for is answers. He wants to know what happened and why.
Meanwhile, Cress tries to follow the advice he gives his clients.
“I tell them to take it one day at a time. One day becomes two and two becomes three and so on until 25 years go by,” he said. “I’m still waiting.”
Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.