Update, 12:17 p.m. Friday: The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office says it has located the person of interest. No details were yet available.
UPDATE: The person of interest in the 1990's murder of Michael Powell has been located! Thank you for all of the tips and information. Our investigation into the murder of Powell, whose remains were found buried in a Bothell backyard last week, continues.— Snohomish Sheriff (@SnoCoSheriff) May 31, 2019
BOTHELL — Snohomish County detectives are searching for a person of interest in a suspected homicide, after the bones of a missing man were unearthed in a backyard near Bothell.
Sheriff’s deputies said Thursday they’re looking for Richard “Rick” Nelson, 43, who has ties to Bonney Lake and Puyallup. He stands 5-foot-9, weighs 185 pounds and has brownish-green eyes, with blond hair or a shaved head.
A tip advised detectives to dig up a yard north of Bothell, at a neighborhood off Filbert Drive.
Skeletal remains believed to be those of Michael Powell, of Mill Creek, were unearthed May 22, according to the sheriff’s office.
Powell had not been in touch with family since the early 1990s, when he was in his early 30s. He had no apparent ties to the current residents of the home, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.
Detectives believe the death was homicide, Ireton said. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office was still working to confirm exactly how he died.
The medical examiner’s office has not officially identified the deceased as Powell.
The sheriff’s office declined to release details about why they hoped to speak with Nelson specifically, or any connection between the two men.
However, in court papers from late 2018, a woman wrote that Nelson once confided in her about “a dark family secret.” He’d buried a man’s body at a house in the Bothell area, where he and his mother had lived for years, according to a sworn declaration in Pierce County Superior Court. Nelson reportedly told her someone else killed the man, but he admitted to hiding the body at a specific spot near the home.
“He told me not to tell,” the woman wrote. “It was hard knowing that there was a body buried in my back yard where my children played.”
Court papers show two women filed for protection orders against Nelson in the past year.
The longer-term partner, in her 40s, wrote Nelson ran a water heater business in Snohomish County in the 2000s, until the family moved to Bonney Lake around 2012. She wrote she’d confronted him about infidelity last August.
“I told him to leave,” she wrote. “As he was packing he made sure I heard him cocking his pistol. I don’t know if he was going to shoot us or not.”
She alleged he’d been taking anabolic steroids for about 10 years. Nelson submitted a drug test that was negative for marijuana and other drugs. But it showed his creatinine levels were over 150 times higher than normal, a possible sign of steroid use.
The other woman, an ex-fiancée in her 30s, alleged in a sworn statement in June 2018 that Nelson raped her multiple times, stalked her and threatened to kill himself in front of her children.
“He owns many guns,” she wrote. “In the past he suggested driving off a bridge. Or going hiking into the snow and allowing himself to freeze to death.”
A change of address notice in a Pierce County court said he moved to the Puyallup area in March.
Detectives hope to find out more about Powell’s whereabouts in the 1990s. He had not been reported missing until recently, Ireton said.
Tips can be directed to the sheriff’s office at 425-388-3845.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.