Henry King sits on a bench he often spent time on between the Boulevard Park and Taylor Dock boardwalks in Bellingham, Washington. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, 9 months after King’s death, police from Bellingham and Marysville as well as Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies arrested Elijah Belmont in King’s killing. (Photo courtesy of Bellingham Police Department)

Henry King sits on a bench he often spent time on between the Boulevard Park and Taylor Dock boardwalks in Bellingham, Washington. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, 9 months after King’s death, police from Bellingham and Marysville as well as Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies arrested Elijah Belmont in King’s killing. (Photo courtesy of Bellingham Police Department)

Marysville man accused of killing ‘kind, gentle’ homeless Bellingham man

After a nine-month investigation, police arrested Elijah Belmont Wednesday in the death of Henry King in Boulevard Park.

BELLINGHAM — Henry King was known for his warm conversation and love of sports trading cards. He had an affinity for baseball.

King, 48, was a familiar face at Boulevard Park in Bellingham. He was homeless, and would often sit on a bench near Boulevard’s boardwalk. On any given day, it would be easy to walk by the park and chat with him. He had a rare openness and was keen to ask people how they were doing.

Early March 12, people walking on the waterfront trail between Taylor Dock and Boulevard Park saw a body floating in Bellingham Bay. The man in the water had been stabbed and shot, according to a police report. He was later identified as King.

On Wednesday, after a nine-month investigation, Bellingham police arrested Elijah Belmont, 22, of Marysville.

Two days earlier, Whatcom County prosecutors had already charged Belmont with first-degree murder.

Police investigation

Shortly after his body was discovered, detectives reportedly found blood and 9 mm shell casings about 175 yards from the water.

Evidence from the scene appeared to show King was either shot or stabbed near the bench and he moved toward the railing before going into the water, according to the police report.

In April, detectives served a Google geofence warrant on the narrow area of the Boulevard boardwalk. Police use such warrants to compel companies, such as Google, to provide data about devices interacting with their technology in a particular area, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Data from the warrant showed a single cell phone near the Chrysalis Inn and the boardwalk that night. Around 4 a.m., two witnesses reported hearing gunshots in the area. The phone was registered to Belmont.

Belmont had ties to Bellingham and Marysville. The day before, he had driven to Bellingham, according to cell phone data obtained by police.

Belmont’s phone showed activity in Whatcom County that night, detectives wrote. At 3:41 a.m., his cell phone traveled south around Boulevard Park. A few minutes later, records showed his phone around the Chrysalis Inn, within a half-mile of where King was killed, according to the report.

Flowers and notes are left on the bench Henry King frequented after he was killed on March 12, 2023 in Bellingham, Washington. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, 9 months after King’s death, police from Bellingham and Marysville as well as Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies arrested Elijah Belmont in King’s killing. (Photo provided by Kyle Peterson)

Flowers and notes are left on the bench Henry King frequented after he was killed on March 12, 2023 in Bellingham, Washington. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, 9 months after King’s death, police from Bellingham and Marysville as well as Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies arrested Elijah Belmont in King’s killing. (Photo provided by Kyle Peterson)

Over the next hour, Belmont’s phone activity moved south, investigators wrote. Around 5:30 a.m., phone data suggested he returned to his mother’s home in Marysville.

The next month, Belmont moved to Utah, according to the report.

In early November, investigators from Bellingham followed up with police in Helper, Utah. Police there said Belmont was no longer in the small town, detectives wrote. The Utah Department of Licensing reported Belmont had moved back to Marysville.

Records showed Belmont’s mother owned at least two 9 mm handguns, consistent with the suspected gun that shot King, according to the report.

Marysville police and Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies helped with the arrest. Afteward, Belmont agreed to a police interview.

‘A kind, gentle, wonderful guy’

Belmont told detectives he went drinking at a bonfire and bars downtown. He reportedly tried to sober up in his truck, then decided to go to Boulevard Park. He parked near the Chrysalis and took a walk on the boardwalk, according to the report.

The suspect reported he would never go to a park at night without his gun, “as there is a large homeless population,” Belmont told detectives.

Belmont was walking when he was reportedly startled by King who was on a bench. Belmont reported King “popped up” and started making noises at him, according to court documents.

Belmont reported trying to talk with King before getting into a fight. He claimed King tried to punch him, according to the police report. Belmont took out a knife and tried to “jab him,” but the knife lock failed and he dropped it. Belmont told police King pulled out his own knife.

Belmont reported he took out his gun and asked King to stop coming at him. When he didn’t, Belmont shot him twice in the stomach, Belmont said in the police interview. Belmont allegedly shot him two more times, according to the police report. King reportedly ran away and jumped over the railing. Belmont said he “did not know what to do,” so he threw all of King’s belongings into the water, including his knife, Belmont reported to police.

Detectives wrote Belmont’s account was contrary to evidence at the scene. King had suffered a stab wound in the back, as well as gunshot wounds in his upper chest, leg and neck, suggesting King was wounded while moving away from his assailant, according to the report.

Belmont said both he and King had knives, but divers on the floor of Bellingham Bay turned up no knives, only a pair of sunglasses and cell phones, according to the report.

After serving a warrant on Belmont’s home, investigators found a folding knife in a pair of pants in his bedroom. Trace amounts of blood were on the knife, according to investigators. Police also found a Smith & Wesson pistol in his pickup, along with ammunition that matched shell casings from the shooting scene. Traces of blood were on the driver’s seat, according to the report.

Investigators also interviewed Belmont’s mother. She said Belmont told her he had been in an “altercation” on the Bellingham boardwalk with a homeless man. She reported Belmont said he stabbed the man and shot him multiple times, then “helped” him over the railing and into the water, according to the report.

After King’s death, hundreds of people across social media shared stories about him. They wrote about a good man in difficult circumstances, most remembered him for his kindness.

An online fundraiser, started by a local card shop owner that King would patronize, raised about $8,000 for his funeral expenses.

“Henry was a kind, gentle, wonderful guy who never asked for anything and wouldn’t accept any sort of assistance,” the card shop owner wrote. “Please join me in honoring a sweet soul.”

After the charges were filed this week, Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Evan Jones issued a “no-bail” warrant for Belmont.

A “warrant identification hearing” was set for Thursday in Bellingham. Several records in the court case remained sealed.

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong age for Henry King.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @snocojon.

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