SEATTLE — A doctor who failed to show up for his new job at a Seattle hospital was charged Tuesday with killing his partner and their young son, days after a hospital manager who went to his apartment to check on him discovered the grisly scene.
Louis C. Chen, 39, faces two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Eric A. Cooper, 29, and Cooper Chen, 2, last Thursday. He remains hospitalized with undisclosed injuries, and it was unclear if he had an attorney.
The endocrinologist recently moved to Seattle from Durham, N.C., where he had completed a fellowship at Duke University. On Thursday, he was to begin work at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center by meeting with a manager there for orientation, a detective wrote in a probable cause statement.
Chen didn’t show up for his 7:50 a.m. Thursday meeting, and when the manager, Madonna Carlson, received a worried call from Chen’s sister an hour later, she went to Chen’s high-rise apartment to check on him. The building’s property manager accompanied her.
Carlson heard some rustling noises and knocked several times, and finally Chen opened the door — nude, covered in dried blood, with his right eye swollen shut. He held a box in front of himself, and inside Carlson could see a man’s body on the floor in boxer shorts.
Cooper, Chen’s longtime partner, had been stabbed well over 100 times, including wounds to his face, back, neck chest and hands, authorities said.
Police arrived to find Chen slumped down by the front door. In the bathroom tub off the master bedroom, they saw the couple’s son, Cooper Chen, obviously dead.
The officers were about to leave the apartment when they noticed Dr. Chen moving his head and eyes. One nudged him and asked Chen for his name, according to the charging papers, and the following conversation ensued:
“Who did this?” the officer asked.
“What?” Chen answered.
“Stabbed you and him.”
Chen looked at the officer. “I did,” he said.
Friends told police they had not heard from Chen since Aug. 8, and a review of the electronic keys assigned to the apartment revealed that they had not been used since that afternoon.
Five large kitchen knives that might have been used in the attack were found in the apartment — including three on the bed in the master bedroom that were stained with blood, the charging papers said.
Aggravated murder is punishable only by life in prison without release or execution. Chen’s arraignment is set for Aug. 29. The prosecutor will then decide whether to seek the death penalty.