Everett murder suspect arrested in random 2018 killing

Jailhouse bragging and cellphone data led police to Anthony Middendorf in the slaying of Charles Wall Jr.

EVERETT — After almost two years of investigation, Everett police have arrested a suspect in the 2018 random killing of a homeless man, Charles Anthony Wall Jr.

Jailhouse bragging, cellphone data and an admission of guilt led police to arrest Anthony Middendorf, 24, an East Wenatchee man with no firm ties to Everett, according to police reports filed in court Friday.

Security footage showed a group of three men walked past Wall, 47, on the morning of July 28, 2018, in the 5100 block of Evergreen Way, the police reports say. Then they turned back around 4:50 a.m. and walked up to him. The tallest man in the group got into a scuffle with Wall, while the other two unidentified men watched. According to police, Wall turned to run away, and the tall man shot him in the back with what police suspect was a .22-caliber pistol.

Wall was found dead over an hour later.

Family remembered him as “uncle Charlie,” who lived on the streets by choice.

“He wasn’t just a homeless man,” his niece Sheena Jensen told KCPQ-TV in 2018. “He was a loved man, who had a lot of family that loved him, that would do anything for him.”

Using security cameras, an Everett detective later retraced the assailant’s meanderings on Evergreen Way that morning.

As the investigation grew colder, police released security footage of a man believed to be the shooter — and in spite of many tips, nobody was arrested. That same month, in September 2018, Middendorf had been booked into jail for a drug offense in Chelan County. A jail guard reported hearing the inmate brag about a robbery and a shooting in Everett. But police could find no way to link Middendorf to the city.

In May 2019, an Everett police officer applied for what’s known as a “geo-fence” search warrant through Google, showing anonymous devices in a given area at a given time as they connect to cellular towers or the internet. Only two devices on the map appeared to match the movements of the suspects, according to police.

Officers eventually secured another warrant through Snohomish County Superior Court to identify those two devices. One phone, police learned, had a 509 area code. It belonged to Middendorf.

Police tracked the movements of that cellphone around the time of the killing and found its owner had moved slowly toward the scene of the crime — and then quickly after the time of the shooting. Officers believe the suspect walked back to the scene later in the day.

Further retracing of cellphone data showed Middendorf left his grandmother’s home in the small town of Orondo on July 28, 2018, drove west through the North Cascades on Highway 20 and stayed at a home off 47th Street in Everett, a few blocks from the killing.

At the time the reports were written, police still hadn’t established any connection between Middendorf and the Snohomish County residents — except that he’d visited a relative in Stanwood in 2018.

The day after the homicide, July 30, cellphone data showed Middendorf took I-90 back to his grandmother’s home, an address registered with his probation officer at the time.

Police noted Middendorf’s appearance and stature matched the tall man in the video. He stands 6-foot-4.

A detective tracked him down Wednesday at his current home in Douglas County. He agreed to an interview. According to police, Middendorf admitted to the killing. He told police he tried to rob the man over a bag of marijuana, and when the stranger fought to keep it, Middendorf panicked and fired.

He was booked into the Snohomish County Jail around 2 a.m. Friday for investigation of first-degree murder.

Everett District Court Judge Tam Bui found probable cause to hold him in jail on that charge Friday. She set bail at $750,000.

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

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