When 29-year-old Devan Schmidt was found dead in her bedroom in Seattle’s Central District just over five years ago, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office determined she had a large amount of drugs in her system that couldn’t be explained and noted homicidal violence and strangulation could not be ruled out as her cause of death, according to King County prosecutors.
Eric Sims, whose criminal convictions date to the early 1990s, was arrested Thursday at his West Seattle apartment on investigation of homicide and was charged the next day with second-degree murder in connection with Schmidt’s death, court records show. Sims, 47, remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail, according to jail records.
“The Defendant viciously assaulted and killed Devan Schmidt on May 2, 2015. He then shamelessly and boldly provided false information to police and others for the months and years afterward,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Adrienne McCoy wrote in charging papers. “After serving a prison sentence for unrelated crimes, including domestic violence against his then-wife, he returned to the Seattle area confident he had gotten away with murder.”
Though the charges don’t say when Sims was released from prison, McCoy wrote he was convicted in 2017 of malicious mischief, witness tampering and two counts of violating a domestic-violence protection order after dousing his wife’s clothes with chemicals and setting them on fire, then calling her from jail and attempting to get her to recant her statement to police. That same year, he was convicted of committing two burglaries, McCoy wrote.
According to the murder charge filed Friday:
Schmidt and her boyfriend rented a room in a house in the 2800 block of Denny Way, where they lived with a roommate.
At 10:45 a.m. on May 2, 2015, the roommate found Schmidt dead on her bedroom floor, dressed only in a bra and tank top. Her room was in disarray and a pair of sweatpants with women’s underwear inside was found bunched up on the bed. The roommate called 911.
Schmidt, who had been dead for at least an hour when police arrived, had bruises consistent with someone lying or sitting on top of her as she was facedown on the floor. She also had cuts and bruises around her mouth and hemorrhages to the cartilage inside her neck.
During the investigation, Seattle police detectives learned Schmidt had invited two close friends over to her house around 2:30 a.m. on the day she died and her friends brought along Sims, who had met Schmidt once before. They drank wine and used cocaine provided by Sims. Around 4:30 a.m., Schmidt and Sims left to buy cigarettes and when they returned, Schmidt said she’d gone swimming and changed into a tank top and sweatpants, say the charges.
Her two friends later told police Schmidt was in a good mood, was singing and dancing, and did not appear especially high or intoxicated.
Around 7 a.m., the friends left together in Schmidt’s boyfriend’s pickup and Sims left in his own vehicle. But as the friends were driving home, Schmidt texted one of them, writing, “Your boy is here what’s the best way to get rid of him?” the charges say of the apparent reference to Sims. The friends offered to drive back to Schmidt’s house but she told them she could handle it.
The friends tried to call Sims but their calls went unanswered.
Police say Sims told detectives he and Schmidt had used cocaine on their way to buy cigarettes and Schmidt’s drugs were better than the cocaine he had provided earlier — and he claimed he later returned to her house to learn the source of her cocaine, adding he wasn’t very experienced with the drug. When she didn’t respond to his phone calls, police say Sims said he returned home to North Seattle.
However, Sims’ cellphone records show he remained at Schmidt’s house until 8:20 a.m. The charges also say Sims misrepresented his cocaine experience to police and note he was convicted seven times of felony drug charges between 1991 and 2003.
A toxicology report showed Schmidt had swallowed a lethal dose of cocaine and had high doses of an antidepressant and a sleeping aid in her system. But police didn’t find her prescription bottles or any cocaine, aside from residue, at the scene.
DNA tests excluded Schmidt’s boyfriend and roommate as possible suspects, the charges say. But saliva containing Sims’ DNA was found on Schmidt’s neck, wrist and underneath her fingernails. Scientists at the State Patrol Crime lab also found P-30, a glycoprotein secreted through seminal fluid, on Schmidt’s body, providing evidence of a possible rape. P-30, which does not contain sperm, is typically from a man who has had a vasectomy.
The charges say Sims’ ex-wife confirmed Sims had undergone a vasectomy.