A 48-year-old Sequim woman faces attempted murder and felony assault charges for allegedly stabbing a neighbor she was dating.
Larisa Jean Dietz was charged Monday, Oct. 14, in connection with the Oct. 8 stabbing of Ricky Lynn McGowan at the Sunbelt Apartments on South Fifth Avenue in Sequim.
McGowan, 58, is in satisfactory condition at Harborview Medical Center after he was airlifted last week.
Dietz will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in Clallam County Superior Court. She is being held in the Clallam County jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Clallam County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin charged Dietz with attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault.
Both counts contained deadly weapon enhancements and the special allegation that McGowan was a vulnerable victim. The enhancements could lengthen Dietz’s prison term if she were to be convicted of the charges.
Dietz appeared in court Oct. 14 on a video monitor from a conference room in the jail.
Sequim Police Detective Devin McBride said in the affidavit for probable cause that Clallam County Fire District No. 3 personnel found McGowan laying on his side in a pool of blood and fatty tissue when they broke into his apartment at 7:21 p.m. Oct. 8.
McGowan, who alerted other neighbors by yelling for help, had two deep tissue wounds on both sides of his neck, McBride said.
A woman later identified as Dietz had her arms wrapped around McGowan’s neck and upper torso and was “trying to jam her hand in his mouth” when medics arrived, McBride said in court papers.
McGowan told police that Dietz attacked him with a knife when he opened the door.
Dietz told police that she had been stabbed but medics found no evidence of a stab wound on her body, police said.
An apartment manager told police that Dietz and McGowan began a romantic/sexual relationship about six weeks prior to the stabbing.
An upside-down cross and the word “DIE” were painted on the outside of McGowan’s door shortly after they began dating, McBride said.
An apartment manager said the paint appeared about six weeks prior after McGowan and the woman had begun a romantic/sexual relationship, court papers said.
On Sept. 21, Dietz told police that McGowan had exposed himself to her and sexually assaulted her, according to the affidavit.
She was arrested July 12 for allegedly assaulting another boyfriend and biting an officer, McBride said.
He said “McGowan is ambulatory but normally uses a walker or a wheelchair to get around.”
Staff Sgt. Sean Madison with Sequim Police Department said they investigated the incident with assistance from the Washington State Patrol and the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team (OPNET).
No other people were involved in the assault and the general public was not in danger during the incident, he said.
The 9-1-1 caller didn’t give much information, Madison said, and that’s why the situation was treated as a medical emergency rather than a police incident.
Residents were not evacuated from the complex, he said.
The 16-unit Sunbelt Apartments were owned by the Peninsula Housing Authority and managed by Serenity House of Clallam County. Peninsula Housing Authority transferred ownership to Serenity House on Sept. 30, said Kay Kassinger, executive director of the Peninsula Housing Authority.
Residents qualify as chronically homeless for at least a year prior to living in the apartments and are classified by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as 100-percent disabled with mental disabilities and/or physical ailments.
The apartment complex was home to 57-year-old Valerie Claplanhoo, who earlier this year was killed with a knife or other sharp weapon or object that caused deadly injuries to her head and neck.
Claplanhoo was found deceased in the building on Jan. 2. Investigations remain ongoing about her death but it’s unknown if her incident is connected to Claplanhoo’s death, police said.
“It’s an interesting place to go … but we treat this as its own investigation right now,” Madison said.
Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.