A man accused of slaying a woman and torching her apartment last week was taken into custody in Northern California after he was found sleeping at an Interstate 5 rest stop, police said.
A 30-year-old man accused of slaying a 37-year-old Bellevue woman and torching her apartment has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson.
Song Wang was charged Tuesday afternoon in connection with the death of Kittaporn Saosawatsri, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Bail was set at $5 million.
Wang was taken into custody in Northern California Monday night after he was seen sleeping at a rest stop on Interstate 5, police said.
According to court documents, Wang is accused of stabbing Saosawatsri multiple times, stealing items from her apartment and then setting a pile of clothing on fire, presumably to conceal or destroy evidence.
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Firefighters were called to the Avalon Meydenbauer residence in downtown Bellevue around 9 p.m. last Tuesday when a sprinkler alarm was set off. Water damage in a fifth-floor unit led them to an apartment on the sixth, where a small closet fire and Saosawatsri’s body were discovered, Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said.
The woman died of multiple stab wounds to the upper torso, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Detectives were told by Saosawatsri’s friend and former boyfriend that she had posted advertisements on Backpage.com and Eros.com for escort work, according to court documents. The apartment where she lived was sparsely furnished, with the bed resembling a makeshift massage table and nightstands containing condoms, lotion and tissue boxes.
Surveillance footage at the apartment shows a man resembling Wang being let into the building and then traveling to the sixth floor around 8 p.m. the night Saosawatsri was killed. About an hour later, the same man is seen walking into the building’s garage and carrying a large bag.
Phone records indicate that the same number that called a number listed on escort advertisements also called several pawnshops in the Portland area after Saosawatsri’s death. According to court documents, Wang is accused of trying to pawn items, including a Louis Vuitton purse and wallet, at shops in the Portland area. At one store, he used his photo identification to try to pawn an item.
On Monday, police released a photograph of Wang, asked him to turn himself in and asked the public for assistance in locating him. They said he had last been seen in Oregon on Saturday.
According to Mylett, Wang was seen sleeping in a Buick at a rest stop in California’s Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border, by a California highway worker. The worker thought he recognized Wang as a wanted man and alerted authorities.
Wang was still sleeping when officers arrived, but “he woke up really quick when they put handcuffs on him,” Mylett said.
At a Tuesday morning news conference, Mylett praised the efforts of his detectives and officers, saying the case required advanced sleuthing.
“This was not a typical homicide,” Mylett said. “Usually a homicide involves someone within a household. This was taking on the feel of a whodunit.”
Bellevue detectives were flying to California on Tuesday to interview Wang, Mylett said.
When the suspect returns to Washington to face charges will depend on whether he waives or fights extradition, Mylett said.
Public records indicate Saosawatsri had lived in Vancouver, Wash., but do not show any close relatives in the area. Mylett said the woman’s relatives live in Thailand and had been notified of her death.