LYNNWOOD — The uncle of a Lynnwood-area first-grader told detectives he came up with a plan to drown the boy about an hour before he carried it out. But he did not explain why.
Andrew Henckel, 19, from Kerrville, Texas, spent hours supposedly helping his sister and about 200 other people in the search for Dayvid Pakko, 6. The boy disappeared Monday from his home at the Bristol Square Apartments.
Dayvid’s body was discovered about 2 a.m. Tuesday in a cardboard box in a garbage bin, mere feet from his front door. Henckel has been arrested for investigation of first-degree murder.
Henckel made a first appearance in Everett District Court on Wednesday afternoon. His bail was set at $1 million.
Defense attorney Rachel Forde argued there wasn’t probable cause to hold him for premeditated murder.
She said there wasn’t evidence to independently support statements he made to police and said she found it troublesome that her client was questioned when he reportedly lives with symptoms related to autism.
He also comes from a family with a military background and has been taught to respect police and follow orders, she said.
“He’s been described as a gentle giant and naive,” Forde said.
Deputy prosecutor Matt Baldock countered that there is substantial evidence to corroborate Henckel’s statements to detectives.
The hearing was delayed briefly at a defense request so Henckel could don a blue crew-necked sweater instead of appearing in a jail uniform.
Henckel was babysitting Dayvid at 2 p.m. Monday, when his sister’s boyfriend — the only other adult who was home — left for about an hour to run errands. By then, the uncle had decided to drown Dayvid in a bathtub, according to a probable cause statement filed in Everett District Court.
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound man filled the tub with water, called Dayvid to the room and held him underwater until he went still, according to the document released Wednesday.
When asked what happens when somebody drowns, Henckel reportedly said, “Lungs fill with water.”
What happens then?
“They die,” the man is quoted as saying.
Henckel then reportedly told Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives he had been trying to kill the child and had succeeded. They say he talked about the drowning in a recorded interview after being advised of his legal rights.
He allegedly went on to describe an attempt to cover up the death. Henckel said he pulled the drain. He went to his suitcase, changed out of his wet clothes and put them in a dryer. He wrapped the body in a blanket, found a cardboard box big enough to hold the boy, and dumped the body in the nearest garbage bin at 15700 44th Avenue W near Lynnwood. He dried the bathroom floor with towels.
Minutes later his sister’s boyfriend returned. He asked about Dayvid. The uncle’s story contrasted with later statements: They’d played with blocks; they watched some TV; he napped on a couch for maybe 10 minutes; and when he woke up, Dayvid was gone.
Over the next few hours, Henckel helped search for his nephew. Alerts described the Beverly Elementary School student as mildly autistic, with a tendency to run and hide when people called his name. Volunteers with flashlights scoured the dark streets as far south as Highway 99, in search of a 48-pound boy in green pajamas.
The boy’s pajama bottoms, with a camouflage dinosaur pattern, had been found earlier in the laundry room.
Just before 2 a.m. Tuesday, while the search was ongoing, a sheriff’s detective combed through the garbage bin. In a box he found the body of a boy, wearing a pajama shirt. The uncle was watching. He began to drift away from the crowd. That’s when he was detained for questioning.
Henckel may have a form of autism. However, he’s not been diagnosed and isn’t on medication, according to the police report. He worked at a U-Haul store in Texas. He said he graduated from high school with good grades, before he attended a year of college.
In an interview with a Fox TV affiliate in San Antonio, Dayvid’s grandfather criticized the police version of what happened, and how detectives described their investigation.
“My grandson’s been murdered,” said the man, who is also the suspect’s father. “My autistic son, who would never hurt a fly, has been sequestered since last night by the police. Apparently, they evoked a confession from him. He had no lawyer present. No family present.”
The man said he doesn’t believe his son is capable of murder. The teen has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, his father said.
“They’re both autistic,” he told the TV station. “And my daughter told me they both connected very naturally. That’s what I was told. I’ve been talking with them every day since, during the week that he’s been there, and there were zero problems.”
Diana Hefley contributed to this story.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.