The dead woman, identified as Linda Sweezer, 64, was caring for the baby and was in the process of obtaining legal custody. Sweezer’s partially burned body was found Tuesday near Lake Tapps.
Pierce County sheriff’s deputies investigating the death of a woman whose partially burned body was found early Tuesday near Lake Tapps searched the woman’s house in Kent on Wednesday and rescued a 4-month-old baby girl who had been abandoned in her crib.
The 25-year-old suspect, identified by police as Lance G.F. Rougeau, was arrested Wednesday evening in Kent, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
The Seattle Times generally doesn’t identify suspects until they are charged. However, authorities identified Rougeau earlier in the day as the person they were looking for.
The body of Linda Sweezer was discovered just after 4 a.m. Tuesday on the side of the road near 166th Avenue East and 24th Street Court East. Investigators believe Sweezer was killed elsewhere, and surveillance video footage from a house near where Sweezer’s body was found showed two sets of headlights leaving the scene after someone attempted to set her body on fire, according to a news release.
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On Tuesday afternoon, Auburn police found an abandoned car in the 2000 block of 63rd Street Southeast and notified Pierce County detectives.
Sweezer, 64, was the registered owner of the car, and detectives searched her house, in the 23200 block of 105th Avenue Southeast in Kent, on Wednesday morning. There, detectives found the baby in her crib in the otherwise unoccupied house, the news release says.
The baby was treated at Seattle Children’s for dehydration and is expected to recover.
Detectives found evidence that Sweezer, who was caring for the infant and was in the process of obtaining legal custody, was killed inside her house, according to the news release.
Detectives are also searching for a second vehicle owned by Sweezer, a bronze 2003 Chevrolet Impala with Washington license plate AGX9423.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office would not say how Sweezer died.
Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ed Troyer said investigators have not yet determined a connection between Rougeau and Sweezer or the baby’s mother, KOMO-TV is reporting.
According to court records, Rougeau has a criminal history that includes convictions for robbery, burglary and custodial assault. He was sentenced to just over three years in prison in May 2014 for breaking into a house in Burien and stealing a rifle, prescription medication and other items, then leading police on a foot chase, the records show.
As of April, when Rougeau’s community supervision on the 2014 residential burglary charge ended, he was listed as being homeless in Seattle, court records show.