Seattle police say Jennifer Ayers, 63, was tortured, raped and killed by a 23-year-old Bellevue man who sneaked into her house Monday morning through an unlocked back door.

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A 23-year-old Bellevue man randomly selected a woman he tortured, raped and stabbed in her Lake City home Monday before setting her body on fire in an attempt to destroy DNA evidence, according to King County prosecutors.

Michael Giordano was arrested in Pioneer Square hours after Seattle police found the burning body of 63-year-old Jennifer Ayers on her kitchen floor in the 2500 block of Northeast 107th Street, Seattle police and prosecutors say.

Giordano made his first court appearance Wednesday, when a judge ordered him held in lieu of $10 million bail.

Giordano was charged Wednesday with aggravated first-degree murder because he is alleged to have killed Ayers with premeditated intent during the course of committing first-degree robbery, first-degree rape, first-degree burglary and first-degree arson, the court documents say.

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The only possible punishments for aggravated first-degree murder are life in prison without the possibility of release or death. Under state law, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg will have 30 days after Giordano’s arraignment to decide whether to pursue the death penalty, although the court can extend that time frame.

 

Monica Rappin, a longtime neighbor, said Ayers had lived in her house for roughly 25 years.

The two used to walk their dogs together every day, until Rappin retired and started sleeping later.

The two had breakfast out together last week with some other locals to celebrate the 80th birthday of another neighbor.

“She was the nicest person,” Rappin said. “She’d always help out with anything.”

 

Giordano, who was arrested twice in March for theft and driving under the influence, does not appear to have a significant criminal history. According to court records, Giordano said he had been diagnosed as bipolar and his 2017 cases were transferred to mental-health court.

According to the charges filed Wednesday:

Around 8:40 a.m. Monday, a resident who lives about a mile east of Ayers’ house called 911 to report that a man was standing out in the street, bleeding from his hands, and claimed that he had been mugged.

Seattle firefighters responded, and the man identified himself as Giordano. Firefighters determined he didn’t need much aid, and he was released.

About an hour later, the same homeowner who called 911 called again, saying he forgot to mention the man had been flinging items into the street and nearby bushes.

Police responded and found a credit card and grocery-store discount card belonging to Ayers. After learning she lived nearby, the officers drove to her house.

When the officers arrived, they heard smoke alarms going off, but no one answered their knocks. They went in through an unlocked door in the back and immediately saw a significant amount of blood and signs the house had been ransacked.

They then found Ayers, whose body was partially on fire, and dragged her out into the backyard.

The charges say the woman’s hands were bound behind her back and she was partially clothed.

Around 5 p.m., firefighters called police about a possible assault near Third Avenue South and South Main Street. Officers arrived and found medics tending to a man who identified himself as Giordano, the charges say.

 

Police say during the course of the officers’ conversation with Giordano he made several statements about having committed a homicide, first claiming he had killed a man in self-defense before saying he’d also killed a woman, according to the charges.

He “provided officers with much more detail,” including tying the woman up with the cords from an X Box controller, raping her and writing on her walls in blood, then using a can of gasoline to start a small fire, charging papers say.

 

Detectives at Ayers’ home saw evidence consistent with details Giordano provided, the charges say.

Police say Giordano told detectives that he picked the victim at random, based primarily on the cars parked outside her residence, the charges say. Police say Giordano also said he sneaked into Ayers’ house through an unlocked door, tied her up, stabbed her multiple times to induce her to reveal the location of her valuables, raped her, and killed her before setting her body on fire to destroy evidence of the rape, the charges say.

According to police, Giordano admitted to writing on the walls with blood to make police think Ayers’ killer was someone with satanic beliefs, the charges say.

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