Charges: Stanwood teacher held ex-wife hostage at gunpoint

Paul Erickson was hired months ago as a middle school science teacher. He’s jailed on felony charges.

STANWOOD — A Stanwood Middle School teacher held his ex-wife hostage at gunpoint and told her he’d paid people $15,000 to kill her in a murder-for-hire plot, according to charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Paul Erickson, 37, remained jailed this week on charges of second-degree assault and felony threats to kill, with bail set at $250,000. He’d been hired this school year to teach science and social studies at Stanwood Middle School. He has since resigned.

His wife had filed for divorce in June, and the final decree of dissolution was stamped on Jan. 7. They have a young son together, and at 4:20 p.m. Jan. 9, they met at Heritage Park to trade off custody of the child.

Erickson told his ex-wife to get in his truck, because it was cold. She did, sitting beside the boy. Erickson “suddenly pulled out a silver handgun,” pointed it at the woman’s left knee and threatened to shoot her, according to the charges.

“There are three bullets in the chamber,” he reportedly told her. “One is for your knee cap so you can feel the pain that I’m feeling, one is for your head and one is for mine.”

Court papers allege he continued to rant about their marriage being a lie, and that he should kill her, and then raised the gun, racked the slide and made a bullet eject. It landed on the woman’s lap, she reported.

Erickson told the woman he’d been planning to kill her for six months, and he’d paid unnamed people to kill her, according to the charges. In front of her, he called somebody, told them to “standby,” and threw the phone onto the dash. Erickson took the woman’s cellphone, and ordered her — still armed with the gun — to follow him to his house on Camano Island.

Inside her own vehicle, she scribbled a note on a piece of paper: “1/9/20 He killed him.” She later clarified to police that she was in a panic and meant to write, “He killed me.”

She then tore up the paper to make it look like trash, in case Erickson saw it, according to her report.

At the house, he forced her to stand in front of a home security camera and repeat phrases about how she was a horrible person and that he was wonderful, according to the woman’s report. He also threatened to kill her first husband, if she said anything bad about him or his family, the charges say. Afterward he let her go.

Police arrested Erickson hours later on Jan. 10. He told a detective that, on top of the divorce, his father recently died. He reported to police he’d only threatened to take his own life, not his ex-wife’s.

Officers found a Smith & Wesson pistol on a table at his home, and a single round of ammunition in his pickup.

His arrest was first reported this week by Stanwood-Camano News. By Friday, he was no longer employed.

“Mr. Erickson has resigned his position in the district and will not be returning to the classroom. A qualified guest teacher is providing instruction to SMS students,” school district spokeswoman Maurene Stanton said in a statement to The Daily Herald. “Additional counseling support will be available for SMS students on Monday.”

Records show in the past decade, Erickson has taught at Cougar Creek and English Crossing elementary schools near Marysville, as well as Chain Lake Elementary near Monroe.

He was briefly released this month when he posted $100,000 bond, but three days later he was booked back into jail. His bail had been increased in light of new, much more detailed reports that were presented to a Superior Court judge.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; Twitter: @snocaleb.

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry route will only have one vessel until late June, Washington State Ferries announced after an engine fire on one vessel and ongoing crew shortages. (Emily Gilbert / Whidbey News-Times)
Coupeville ferry route down to one boat through June 27

Another delay in two-boat service means Coupeville ferry riders should expect long waits until June.

Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Arlington and local Cub Scouts planted trees at Stormwater Wetland Park on May 1. (City of Arlington)
Scouts, Rotarians collaborate to restore an Arlinton park

Rotary and Cub Scouts plant trees in Arlington Stormwater Wetland Park has… Continue reading

Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1386 on Monday. Here, he talks in Tukwila before last week's signing of the new capital gains tax bill. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)
Inslee signs bill extending tax break used by area cities

It’s helped Arlington and Marysville attract new businesses to Cascade Industrial Center.

Matt Reed (left) with his mother-in-law, Karen Alvin, remembers the day Meredith Reed died leaving behind baby Dylan, born two months premature. Meredith died of an embolism in her lungs just after Dylan was delivered by C-section April 15.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
A tragic loss, a fragile new life, a mother never forgotten

Meredith Reed died of a blood clot in her lung the day her son Dylan was born three months early.

From the third floor crow's nest of its new building in the port's South Marina, Everett Yacht Club Commodore John Seger points out what will be the club's dock on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Everett Yacht Club, at 114, gets a new home in South Marina

Once a fancy destination, the old building will be demolished — amid many changes to the city’s waterfront.

Pedestrian hit, killed by train in Marysville

Roads were closed as police investigated the scene on 88th Street NE and State Avenue.

Everett man sentenced for crashing into police car head-on

Thomas Susnios, 27, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault. He was sentenced to 8½ years in prison.

Jeffrey Phebus is sentenced to over 31 years in prison for the murder of his wife Rebecca Phebus, on Monday, May 10, 2021, at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘No words’: Arlington man sentenced for killing wife at work

Jeffery Phebus, 61, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. He was sentenced to 31⅔ years in prison Monday.

Detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify a suspect in a bank robbery that occurred on Monday, April 26, at the Wells Fargo Bank located in the 1200 block of 13th Street in Snohomish. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Police: Snohomish bank robbery suspect rented getaway car

Police tracked down a Sultan man with the help of a rented car with Montana license plates.

Most Read