A 38-year-old man was charged last week with premeditated first-degree murder, accused of luring a woman to an Auburn park in early May — purportedly to dig up a stash of stolen gold — then killing her and burying her body in a shallow grave, according to King County prosecutors.
Richard Bradley, whose last known address is in Kent, was arrested May 21 in Renton. Prosecutors have also tied him to two other recent homicide victims, charging him with second-degree arson in a case where he allegedly offered to pay a man $1,000 to torch an impounded Dodge Durango that belonged to two men who had been shot to death, court and jail records show.
Bradley also has pending criminal cases from 2018, 2019 and 2020; in addition to the recently filed murder and arson charges, he also faces two counts of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and is being held at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in lieu of just over $3.1 million bail, according to the records. He has previously been convicted of vehicular assault and second-degree robbery and was convicted in federal court for possessing an unregistered firearm, charges in the murder case say.
Bradley is to be arraigned on the murder, arson and gun charges on June 7. Court records do not yet indicate which attorney is representing him.
The King County Sheriff’s Office’s Major Crimes Unit is still investigating the March 16 deaths of Michael Goeman and his son, Vance Lakey, Sgt. Tim Meyer, a sheriff’s spokesperson, said Wednesday.
Goeman, 59, died from a gunshot wound to the head and Lakey, 31, died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head; both their deaths were ruled homicides, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Goeman’s body was discovered April 21 and Lakey’s a week later in the same general area off an unmaintained county road outside Auburn, near the 36800 block of 56th Place South, according to charging documents in the arson case.
The woman Bradley is accused of killing was identified by the medical examiner as 44-year-old Brandi Blake, who died May 5 from multiple blunt force injuries. Her death was also ruled a homicide.
Blake’s family reported her missing to Federal Way police after she stopped answering her phone and responding to social media messages. Blake’s body was found on May 26.
King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Lakeysha Washington noted in charging documents in the murder case that items found near Blake’s body were similar to items recovered near Lakey’s remains, though she does not specify what those items were. Bradley and his wife were seen driving Goeman and Lakey’s Dodge Durango and Blake’s Ford Mustang after all three were last seen alive, according to the charges.
Goeman and Lakey were living in a tent before Goeman received a large inheritance and purchased the Durango for $3,500 cash, say the arson charges. The two men then lived in the SUV.
After the men’s bodies were found, sheriff’s detectives interviewed one of Bradley’s associates, who told them the Durango was at a tow yard in Auburn. The man said Bradley had offered to pay him to set fire to the vehicle and told him “to make sure the front seats were destroyed in the fire,” say the charges. Bradley’s wife gave the man a can of gas. But after cutting the fence surrounding the yard, the man told detectives he decided not to go through with the arson, the charges say.
After Bradley and his wife were arrested in a recreational vehicle in Renton, a rifle, a shotgun and a handgun were found by sheriff’s detectives inside the RV, according to charging papers in the arson case.
The .40-caliber handgun found in the RV had belonged to Blake, say the charges in the murder case. Also found in the vehicle was Blake’s backpack, which contained more than three pounds of meth, a pound of heroin and 1,000 Percocet pills, according to the charges.
During the investigation, sheriff’s detectives learned Blake dealt drugs, had recently won $20,000 at a casino and was known to carry large amounts of cash, say the charges.
They also learned she had a key to a gate at Game Farm Park in Auburn, a 160-acre park and wilderness area located about a three-minute drive from a Walgreens store where Blake — accompanied by Bradley — was last seen on video, just before 9 p.m. on May 5, the charges say.
Two hours later, Bradley was seen on video returning alone to a Federal Way hotel where Blake had rented a room and he was wearing the same clothing as seen in the Walgreens video, according to the charges. Sheriff’s detectives later recovered Bradley’s T-shirt, shorts and shoes and all appeared to have blood on them.
A friend of Blake’s told investigators that Blake had confided in him that Bradley had told her he buried a stash of gold taken in a robbery and had asked for Blake’s help in selling it, according to the charges.
Blake’s Mustang was found abandoned on May 13 in Tacoma and the charges note the car’s license plates had been removed and it appeared the exterior had been wiped down with cleaner.
On May 26, sheriff’s officials searched the Game Farm Park’s wilderness area with specially-trained K-9s.
A man who lives at the park told a detective that on a night weeks earlier, he had heard someone yelling for help and found a man who matched Bradley’s description carrying a folding shovel and backpack, say the charges. The witness said the man had become lost in the dark and he helped him find his way back to the road, where a Mustang was parked. Three days later, the man returned to the park and gave the witness a large bag of crystal meth as thanks for his help, the charges say.
The witness directed detectives to an area south of the White River, where he had found the man in the dark, and the search was concentrated there; about 90 minutes later, a K-9 found Blake’s body face down in a shallow, poorly covered grave, according to the charges. Nearby, the charges say detectives found a key card to the Federal Way hotel; a pickax and shovel were found next to a second hole about 20 yards from the grave.
“Based on the facts and circumstances of the case, I believe that Richard Bradley lured Brandi Blake to the Game Farm Park Wilderness area with the story of gold he had buried there with the intent to kill her and take her property, including her narcotics, cash, firearm and vehicle,” a sheriff’s detective concluded in the charges.