EVERETT — Eric Christensen had scratches on his face and a cut on his hand and thigh when police caught up with him at a doctor’s office in Monroe.
The detectives were looking for Sherry Harlan. The Everett woman didn’t show up for work and she hadn’t returned any phone calls or text messages. Harlan’s friends and family were worried.
Detectives asked Christensen if he knew where Harlan might be.
“I have no clue,” Christensen told police, “and I personally don’t care.”
A Snohomish County jury on Wednesday listened to the tape-recorded, hour-long interview Christensen gave detectives on Jan 6. Police believe that just a few hours earlier Christensen had torched Harlan’s car in an attempt to cover up a grisly murder.
The next day a search and rescue crew found Harlan’s car off Reiter Road outside Gold Bar.
Inside, detectives found Harlan’s skull and several knives. A few days later, a Gold Bar man led detectives to Harlan’s remains in several other locations in rural east Snohomish County. He told investigators Christensen admitted to killing Harlan and then solicited his help to dispose of her mutilated, dismembered body.
Prosecutors allege that Christensen, 40, killed Harlan on Jan. 2 after learning that she continued to communicate with an older man she had befriended on a social networking website.
Christensen is charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces decades in prison.
His attorney told jurors Tuesday that prosecutors don’t have any evidence that Christensen planned to kill Harlan.
He lied to police when he talked to them on Jan. 6 in a desperate attempt to hide the crime, said defense attorney Kathleen Kyle with the Snohomish County Public Defender’s Association. That is not evidence that he planned the slaying, she said.
Christensen told the cops he had tried to make things work with Harlan, but she had broken a promise. He wouldn’t tolerate her communicating with another man, not after she took a “blood oath.”
“I’m not a Christian. I’m a Wiccan and that would be like asking me to become (a Christian). I’m 100 percent totally for Chevys. It would be like asking me to love Fords,” Christensen told the detectives.
Christensen described the oath that he and Harlan took at her apartment in mid-December. He laughed at detectives as they tried to understand the different elements of the ceremony.
Christensen said Harlan vowed to stop seeing and taking gifts from the man. He explained that he wanted to salvage the relationship and the oath meant Harlan did too, he said.
Christensen recounted the morning he found out that Harlan continued to communicate with the other man. He told detectives he discovered the text messages on Harlan’s phone while she was in the shower.
He said he was “biting-nails mad, but I know how to control my anger. I know if it goes a little too far. I know exactly what my potentials are without even doing it.”
He told police he and Harlan had sex and then he confronted her about the messages. They got into a shoving match. He called her names and then left.
“So what are your feelings toward her now?” detectives asked Christensen.
“I hope Karma gives her what she deserves,” Christensen said.
“What do you mean by that?” sheriff’s detective Ted Betts asked.
“Well, she broke an oath,” Christensen said.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; firstname.lastname@example.org.