EVERETT — An Arlington man pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing his estranged wife at her workplace in 2019.
Jeffery Phebus, 61, is to be sentenced May 10 in Snohomish County Superior Court.
On May 24, 2019, the husband shot and killed Rebecca Phebus at Achilles, a south Everett plastics manufacturer.
Jeffery Phebus had been fired from Achilles a month earlier “for a threat of violence to an employee — presumably a reference to Rebecca,” according to charging papers.
“It was a deliberate and cold-blooded killing that arose from his increasing anger toward her and others after their January, 2019, separation,” deputy prosecutor Matt Pittman wrote in the charges.
Rebecca Phebus, 57, moved out of their Arlington home at the end of January while her husband was on a business trip, according to police reports. She moved in with her son on Camano Island. Her husband began harassing her soon afterward, sending threatening text messages, according to police.
In a two-hour phone call with an Island County sheriff’s deputy, the husband made vague disturbing comments, then backtracked, according to an incident report.
During the phone call, Phebus claimed he borrowed a .357-caliber gun from his neighbor and was going to bring it with him to confront his wife and her son, but “only for protection,” the deputy wrote.
A week later, the threats became more explicit. He told a 911 dispatcher again that he was on his way to confront them with a gun, that he was willing to risk his life, and that he was “so sorry,” according to court documents. Police raced to the Camano Island home. The residents took the threats seriously enough to pack and flee in about 15 minutes. Jeffery Phebus didn’t show up.
On the morning of May 24, 2019, the husband donned a company jacket and entered his former workplace, according to court documents. He grabbed Rebecca Phebus by her head. Witnesses reported seeing the husband pull the trigger. She died at the scene.
The husband reportedly took off in a red 2005 Chevrolet Corvette. Later that morning, he exchanged gunfire with police behind a Safeway in north Everett. No one was hit. Police ordered Phebus out of the car, shot him in the stomach with a beanbag round and arrested him on McDougall Avenue.
He has been in the Snohomish County Jail since then.
Under state guidelines, the defendant faces 25 to 31⅔ years behind bars for first-degree murder.
Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reporterellen.