In the months before he allegedly murdered a 19-year-old Kirkland woman, Pvt. Dakota Wolf went absent-without-leave from Joint Base Lewis-McChord repeatedly, smoked the drug spice and assaulted a noncommissioned officer, according to Army documents.

Share story

In the months leading up to the alleged murder of a 19-year-old Kirkland woman, Pvt. Dakota Wolf was absent without leave from Joint Base Lewis-McChord repeatedly, smoked the drug spice and assaulted a noncommissioned officer, according to charging documents released this week by the Army.

Wolf is accused in the Nov. 30 slaying of Scarlett Paxton, who died outside her Kirkland apartment from knife wounds.

The charging documents sketch out details of the soldier’s troubled military career.

Wolf is alleged to have gone AWOL or failed to report for duty six times between June and November of last year.

The Army also charges Wolf with missing four separate troop movements as his unit — a Stryker battalion of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division — trained for a future deployment overseas.

Wolf is now confined at Lewis-McChord.

He is expected to first be tried in a court-martial proceeding at the base that could result in a bad-conduct discharge and up to a year in prison, then turned over to civilian authorities to stand trial in King County Superior Court for murder, according to Maj. Chris Ophardt, a base spokesman.

Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff at the King County Prosecutor’s Office, confirmed that Wolf’s case will first be handled by the military.

Wolf, 19, joined the Army in July 2010 and has never served in a combat zone.

The summer after his enlistment, he started going AWOL and missing troop movements, according to the Army charging document. In early November, he was found smoking spice, so-called “synthetic” pot that can bring on hallucinations.

By Nov. 17, Wolf already had gone AWOL or failed to report to duty five times, according to Army charging documents.

On that day, Wolf tried to flee again and swung his fists at a noncommissioned officer who tried to stop him, according to a source at Lewis-McChord with knowledge of the event.

That incident would eventually result in an assault charge.

But Wolf wasn’t placed in protective custody.

On the next day, Nov. 18, Wolf went AWOL a final time. King County prosecutors allege that Wolf killed Paxton on Nov. 30 in a random and brutal knife attack.

Police reports cite DNA tests matching Paxton’s blood to stains on the pants found in the Kirkland bedroom where Wolf was staying while AWOL.

In an interview with Kirkland police, Wolf said he was addicted to smoking spice and had issues with “paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety and memory.”

After Wolf’s arrest, the soldier was returned to Lewis-McChord and placed under military custody, according to King County charging documents.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or

Seattle Times reporter Jennifer Sullivan contributed to this report.