SHELTON - A 29-year-old Abbotsford, B.C., man is accused of fatally cutting his 5-year-old stepdaughter's throat with a kitchen knife at a home near Lake Cushman on Sunday evening in a homicide that Mason County's chief criminal deputy said is the most disturbing he has ever seen.
Peter James Wilson allegedly killed Clare Louise Shelswell, 5, after having a disagreement with his wife about how to discipline the child while they were on vacation at a home at 260 N. Mount Seattle Way, court papers state.
Clare’s mother, Sarah Jane Wilson, told sheriff’s deputies that during her argument with Peter Wilson about discipline, he told her “not to worry, that he would take care of it,” court papers state.
She said Peter Wilson took Clare downstairs, “a short time later Sarah hears a scream, Sarah comes downstairs and finds Peter standing next to the kitchen covered in blood and Clare lying in a pool of blood on her back on the floor holding her throat with her hands,” court papers state. “...Peter tells her she better call 911.”
The child died from blood loss after being nearly decapitated, according to Mason County Coroner Wes Stockwell.
Mason County Chief Criminal Deputy Dean Byrd said Monday that investigators still don’t have a motive for Clare’s homicide. Wilson has bipolar disorder, and is “taking medication for it,” court papers state.
“How does a person make the decision to take the life of his 5-year-old stepdaughter?,” Byrd said during an interview at the Mason County Sheriff’s Office in Shelton. “In my 37 years in law enforcement I’ve not seen anything so horrific and senseless.”
Wilson, a Peterbilt salesman, was being held on suspicion of first-degree murder at the Mason County Jail in Shelton on Monday with bail set at $3 million, Byrd said.
When police arrived at the home at around 6:42 p.m. Sunday, medics were already there. Peter Wilson was “sitting in a swing in the gazebo next to the residence,” court papers state. Mason County Sheriff’s Sgt. Travis described Wilson as “being very stoic,” and he was taken into custody without incident.
Wilson later confessed to detectives that “he did indeed knowingly kill Clare by cutting her throat with a knife he found on the kitchen counter,” court papers state. He also told a detective that “as soon as he started to walk down the stairs to the kitchen with Clare, he knew he was going to kill her.”
Sgt. Travis located the knife believed to be used in the attack when he arrived on scene, court papers state.
The child’s mother, Sarah Jane Wilson, has issued a statement through the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, and it was forwarded to local media outlets.
In the statement, Sarah Jane Wilson states that her family has no interest in making comments to the media. She states that the child’s funeral will be private.
“My heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to all of the emergency personnel that have been involved in helping us navigate this trauma,” read’s Sarah Jane Wilson’s statement. “God’s richest blessings on you all for the amazing compassion and heart you have shown to me and my family during this time.”
In the statement, Sarah Jane Wilson indicates that her slain daughter is survived by a sibling in addition to other family members.
Byrd said Sunday’s homicide is the first of 2010. The last homicide investigated by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office was in 2006, Byrd said.
Constable Ian MacDonald of the Abbotsford Police Department said in a phone interview Monday that Peter James Wilson has no criminal history. “This person was not remarkable in any way in terms of interactions with us,” he said.
Abbotsford is a city of about 137,000, near the border between Canada and the United States, about 40 miles outside of Vancouver, B.C., MacDonald said.
Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Gary Burleson said Monday that his office needs to investigate Clare’s homicide further before filing formal charges.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org