On August 19th, a 62-year-old Burien landlord was arrested, questioned, and booked into the King County Jail. The following day, a judge found enough probable cause to order the man to be held while a murder investigation was conducted. His bail at that time was set at $5 million.
As official charges were not yet filed in the case, the name of the man suspected in the deaths of 35-year-old mother of four Jessica Lewis, and 27-year-old Austin Wenner, whose bodies were found dismembered and in a suitcase on a Seattle beach in a viral video on June 19th was not released by the Seattle Times nor other outlets that reported on the arrest.
Now, however, Michael Lee Dudley has been charged with two counts of second degree murder. The matter is still under investigation and more charges may be filed. He remains at the King County Jail on $5 million bail.
According to the charging documents, Dudley has a prior felony drug conviction as well as convictions for vehicle theft and DUI.
Investigators are considering that there were likely other people involved stating that “the defendant, likely with the aid of others, dismembered the two victims after he killed them, separated their bodies in multiple bags and suitcases and tried to hide them in different bodies of water.”
Dudley had been renting a room to Lewis and Wenner, but they had been unable to pay the rent so he wanted them to move out. Neighbors of Dudley reported to police that they heard a loud argument on June 9th when a male voice was heard saying, “Please don’t do this. Just let me leave.” Neighbors then heard gunshots and called the police.
When officers arrived at the residence, they got no response from anyone inside and so, began the process of requesting a search warrant.
When that search warrant was executed investigators found that a room of the home had been recently cleaned and painted. Nevertheless, blood and bullets were found in the room. Officers stated that Dudley “could not explain the bullets or the bullet holes” and claimed that he did not know whose blood was in the room.
Dudley is scheduled to be arraigned on September 8th at 8:30 in the morning at the King County Courthouse.