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.

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