A loosely organized crime ring that targeted vulnerable adults set their sights on Navy veteran Frances "Patrick" Fleming after learning about his prized coin collection last year, according to King County prosecutors. On the night of Dec. 8, Fleming was found dead inside his apartment.
A loosely organized crime ring that targeted vulnerable adults set their sights on Navy veteran Frances “Patrick” Fleming after learning about his prized coin collection last year, according to King County prosecutors.
Fleming, 70, got to know members of the group, believing they were related to a neighbor at the Four Freedoms House, a senior independent-living center in Seattle’s Bitter Lake neighborhood, prosecutors say in court documents. People closest to Fleming said he was extremely friendly and often talked about his nearly 40-year-old coin collection to anyone who would listen.
It was his eagerness to chat about the coins that drew attention from members of the crime ring, authorities said.
On the night of Dec. 8, Fleming was found dead inside his apartment. He suffered stab wounds all over his body and a deep gash to the throat.
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Police and prosecutors were soon led to members of the crime ring by a former resident at the Four Freedoms House, a woman who said she had been scammed by the group, according to Seattle police. She had moved from the complex before Fleming’s death.
On Tuesday, Charles Jungbluth, 51, of Lake Stevens, and Gilda Ramirez, 49, of Seattle, were charged with first-degree murder and each ordered held at the King County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail.
Seattle police Detective Cloyd Steiger wrote in charging documents that Jungbluth’s DNA was found at the crime scene.
The third alleged member of the ring, a 46-year-old woman, is still being investigated by Seattle police for possible involvement in Fleming’s death. According to charging papers, she was in Fleming’s apartment the evening he was killed.
In July, the woman was charged in King County Superior Court with more than 50 criminal counts, including the alleged bilking of an elderly Seattle woman out of $1 million. She is being held at the King County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail for her alleged role in those cases.
According to those charges filed in July, Ramirez and Jungbluth played a role in the more-than 50-count scheme.
In July, Jungbluth and Ramirez were charged with stealing pricey items from four landlords. Jungbluth is accused of thefts from the two Seattle landlords, while Ramirez was charged with involvement in thefts from landlords in West Seattle and Kirkland.
“They are known to earn their livelihood by committing financial crimes, often against vulnerable adults, to be transitory, and to have multiple identities,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Carla Carlstrom wrote in charging papers.
When confronted by police about Fleming’s death, Jungbluth and Ramirez both blamed the woman who hasn’t been charged, charges said. Speaking independently to detectives, Jungbluth and Ramirez said the woman was desperate to get Fleming’s coin collection, according to the paperwork with the murder charges.
The Seattle Times is not naming the third suspect because she has not been charged in connection with Fleming’s death.
Before the slaying, the defendants dressed in clothing they purchased at a Kirkland Goodwill store and armed themselves with large kitchen knives, charging papers said. The three defendants went to the Four Freedoms House and knocked on Fleming’s door. When he refused to let them in, the door was forced open and he was attacked, charges said.
Once Fleming was dead, the intruders started loading up duffel bags with his belongings; they later burned their bloody clothing, according to charging papers.
Ramirez told police that they sold the coins they stole, according to charging documents. Steiger said the coins have not been recovered.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.