Prosecutors said Richard Parenteau Jr. killed the couple in July 2014 after they gave him an ultimatum, telling him he had to move out of the family’s South Park home.
A King County jury deliberated for less than an hour before convicting a 49-year-old Seattle man of killing his mother and stepfather in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood in 2014.
Richard Parenteau Jr. was convicted Wednesday of two counts of first-degree murder for beating and suffocating Linda Parenteau, 70, and attacking David Wells, 69, with an ax, following a loud argument that was overheard by a neighbor when the couple told Parenteau he had to move out of their house.
During closing arguments earlier in the day, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Don Raz told jurors the case against Parenteau was a circumstantial one, given Parenteau had apparently worn gloves and then destroyed evidence during his attempted cleanup of the crime scene.
Linda Parenteau, who was still wearing her bathrobe when her body was later found, was killed in the kitchen of her small yellow house on South Southern Street, Raz said. Her son then waited for Wells to return home for lunch, attacking him with an ax as soon as he walked through the front door, Raz said.
Most Read Local Stories
- After 17 days and 1,000 miles, mother orca Tahlequah drops dead calf, frolics with pod
- Weekend lightning, wind spread wildfires across Washington state
- Puget Sound air-quality warning: Beware of smoke from British Columbia fires
- A cheaper way to ease Seattle's homeless crisis? Pierce County sees promising results
- 'Video games'? Pilots wonder how plane thief learned to do aerial acrobatics
Parenteau wrapped both bodies in blankets and loaded them into his stepfather’s minivan. Parenteau drove Wells’ body to a small park along the Duwamish Waterway and then dropped his mother’s body off the First Avenue South Bridge, Raz said.
The couple is believed to have been killed July 18, 2014. There were no signs of forced entry to their house, the killer took a shower and did laundry, the couple’s valuables and credit cards had been piled onto their bed, a variety of cleaning supplies had been used and Parenteau was the only person with access to the house, minivan, and his stepfather’s cellphone, Raz said.
In addition, two neighbors saw Parenteau cleaning the minivan and driveway at night, and Parenteau told the neighbor boy who came by to mow the lawn that his parents had gone away on vacation, he said.
Wells’ body was found by a passer-by early on July 19, 2014, about five blocks from his South Park home.
As a Seattle police SWAT team prepared to search Wells’ residence, homicide detectives learned another passer-by had discovered Linda Parenteau’s body under the bridge, jurors heard during Parenteau’s four-week trial.
When police arrived at the house, Parenteau, who had been alone inside, calmly walked out, smoking a cigarette, Raz said. Wells’ blood was later found in the shower, and a rug was missing from the area near the door; Linda Parenteau’s blood was found in the minivan and green paint left on her body matched green paint on a hooded sweatshirt police found in the washing machine, he said.
For more than an hour, Raz laid out the state’s case, noting various items of evidence, pointing out a host of inconsistencies in Parenteau’s version of events and reminding jurors that Parenteau testified he “will situationally lie” to get his way.
“Common sense tells you this is a crime committed by a disgruntled son,” Raz said.
Parenteau, who acted as his own attorney, used his closing argument to further his claim that the homicides were committed as part of a conspiracy to silence him, while claiming to be a CIA whistleblower. He maintained he was abducted and had electrodes illegally inserted into his body.
“There’s no evidence that evil surgeons do not exist. There’s no evidence these medical implants do not exist. There’s no evidence I killed my mom or stepdad. There’s no evidence that there wasn’t someone else who wanted to kill them,” Parenteau said.
He scoffed at the idea that as a grown man, being asked to move out of his parents’ house would enrage him enough to kill.
“If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true,” Parenteau argued.
Wells’ two daughters and son along with Linda Parenteau’s niece attended the trial but declined to speak with a reporter. Through their victim advocate, Wells’ daughters said it had taken a long time for the case to be resolved and they were pleased with the verdicts.
Parenteau is to be sentenced Nov. 29.
Parenteau — who court records say was a longtime abuser of methamphetamines, cocaine and anabolic steroids — was involuntarily committed because of mental-health issues several times in the 1½ years before the killings, and had made a number of documented threats to kill family members, police and neighbors.
One neighbor called him a “ticking time bomb.”
Parenteau didn’t enter not-guilty pleas until October 2015, after he had been found mentally competent to stand trial, court records show. At that point, Parenteau decided to serve as his own attorney and filed dozens of motions and letters with the court.
As Parenteau was led out of the courtroom with his hands cuffed to his waist, he issued a final parting shot at the prosecutor: “Hope you’re proud of yourself, Mr. Raz. I was set up,” he said.