Deputies arrest suspect in fatal stabbing at homeless camp

T.J. Bern, 26, died last month after an attack in the woods near Highway 99 in south Everett.

EVERETT — Detectives have arrested a man on suspicion of stabbing an acquaintance to death at a south Everett homeless encampment in late September.

The 19-year-old was detained Thursday for investigation of second-degree murder.

Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies had found the victim with life-threatening injuries shortly before midnight on Sept. 23. They were called out to the area near Highway 99 and Airport Road for a report of a knife attack. They soon found T.J. Bern collapsed on a path through the woods, bleeding profusely from a leg wound, a police report states. The 26-year-old man was rushed to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, where he died the next day.

A follow-up investigation led detectives to focus on a 19-year-old man who, like the victim, frequented the nearby homeless encampments. They took him into custody Thursday afternoon on an unrelated theft warrant. Then they began to question him about the killing.

“When advised of his arrest for murder, (the suspect) stated ‘wow’ and nothing more,” the police report says.

Evidence suggested the suspect was angry about someone stealing his wallet with about $150 inside, the report states. Witnesses reported a confrontation about the theft at or near an abandoned dentist office on Highway 99, south of Airport Road. They told deputies that Bern was stabbed as the two men fought.

The suspect remained at the Snohomish County Jail Friday. Judge Tam Bui set his bail to $250,000.

In arguing the bail amount, public defender Tobin Klusty said that the suspect may have acted in self defense.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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