OLYMPIA – An inmate at the Thurston County Jail who is accused of planning to kill both a sheriff’s detective and the husband of the woman whose Tumwater home he is accused of breaking into 28 times was ordered held Monday in lieu of $1 million bail.
Royce Lynn Baxter, 59, of Long Beach, appeared Monday in Thurston County Superior Court, where a judge found probable cause to order the bail. He is accused in new charges of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.
Thurston County sheriff’s detective Dave Haller, who headed the December investigation that led to initial charges of residential burglary with sexual motivation, was in court Monday as Baxter appeared on the new charges of planning to murder Haller and the husband of the woman he is “infatuated” with, according to court papers.
Outside court Monday, Haller called Baxter’s case bizarre.
When sheriff’s deputies arrested Baxter outside the Tumwater woman’s home Dec. 15, Baxter had a handgun, a bag of women’s underwear and four pit bulls in his vehicle. The woman’s husband told sheriff’s deputies that Baxter previously worked with his wife at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in South Bend and that they had been friends with Baxter about 10 years ago, court papers state.
Baxter’s alleged plot to kill Haller and the woman’s husband came to the attention of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office after another inmate heard of Baxter’s plan and told law enforcement officials about it, court papers state.
Haller said Monday that in his two decades as a detective it is not uncommon for suspects to talk about their hatred of him, but he’s never before been targeted for murder.
“This one had the means to carry it out,” Haller said of Baxter.
Haller said that if Baxter had made bail before his office learned of the alleged plot, he would not have been notified of Baxter’s release.
According to court papers:
The Sheriff’s Office obtained permission for the other inmate to wear a device to record conversations with Baxter about the alleged plot. The Sheriff’s Office also used an undercover detective who posed as a fictitious hit man.
The inmate said Baxter was “fixated” on Haller and “repeatedly spoke of his hatred toward detective Haller and has mentioned his intent to harm Haller when he is released.”
The inmate said Baxter had made a plan to kill Haller and the husband of his former co-worker, and had “solicited help in locating a vehicle and an untraceable cellphone to utilize upon his release.”
“The defendant solicited the help of at least three individuals outside the jail; made arrangements to purchase a Nissan Stanza and an untraceable ‘Tundra’ cellphone.” The inmate said Baxter planned to use these items to assist him in committing the murders and in fleeing the area after he posted bail.
Baxter also asked his son to wire $2,300 to a friend to pay for the car and phone.
During the investigation, detectives recovered three firearms that Baxter had hidden on his Long Beach property before his arrest that had not been recovered during an earlier search.
During the recorded conversations, Baxter agreed to pay the fictitious hit man to murder Haller after he realized he could not make his $50,000 bail. Baxter had second thoughts about having his former co-worker’s husband killed. During a subsequent meeting with the fictitious hit man, actually an undercover sheriff’s detective, Baxter said he wanted to “call everything off,” and apparently realized the hit man was actually a detective.
Other details of Baxter’s plan to kill Haller that are alleged in court papers include “drawing maps of one of the intended victim’s residence and a physical description of the other intended victim, for use by the fictitious hit man, as well as making arrangements for the hit man to obtain firearms.”
A victim’s advocate for the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Stanley Phillips, said Baxter’s former co-worker and her husband are extremely fearful for their safety and are taking steps to protect themselves.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465