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Police crack 30-year-old murder

  • Author: crimeblog
  • Updated: April 29, 2016
  • Published March 25, 2008

Here's a story with Alaska connections from The News Tribune in Tacoma:

SEAN ROBINSON; sean.robinson@thenewstribune.com

For 30 years, the killing was unknown and unsolved. On Monday, Pierce County sheriff's deputies closed the loop of decades, and arrested a brother and sister suspected of conspiring to kill Joseph Tarricone, who disappeared in 1978.

"There's the karma train, coming back around," sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Tarricone's remains were discovered June 4 by construction workers building a shopping center in the Summit area, just outside of Puyallup. The remains were unidentified bones, wrapped in plastic.

Investigators now believe Tarricone's body was buried at the site in late September or early October 1978. He was 53 when he died, and the owner of a meat distribution company in Alaska.

"We don't doubt that it's him," Troyer said.

The News Tribune is not naming the suspects because they haven't been charged, but arraignment is expected today, Troyer said.

The woman, 54, was arrested at her home on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Her brother, a 59-year-old sex offender with a prior conviction for manslaughter, was arrested at an meeting with his probation officer, Troyer said.

TWO CONSPIRED, POLICE SAY

In 1978, the woman had a relationship with Tarricone, Troyer said. She was 25 at the time of Tarricone's killing. Her brother was 30, then living in Alaska.

"We believe she recruited him to do it," Troyer said. "It was her wishing and his doing – the two conspired together to kill him. We believe that they're the ones that cut the bones up, cut him in pieces, bagged him and buried him."

If the date of Tarricone's slaying is correct, it has a grim parallel.

Pierce County court records say the 59-year-old man arrested Monday was convicted of manslaughter in Alaska – the victim was his wife, and the date of the crime was Oct. 21, 1978, a few weeks after Tarricone was killed.

The man received a 15-year prison sentence, the records state.

The precise date of his release is unclear in the records, but the man was charged with first-degree child rape in Pierce County in 1994. The victim was a 10-year-old relative. The man was convicted on a lesser charge of third-degree assault with sexual motivation. He served four months in jail.

REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER

Other public records suggest he was convicted of child rape in Arkansas later in 1994, and required to register as a sex offender.

While the man traveled through the court system, earning those and other lesser convictions, the woman lived a seemingly normal life for three decades.

Meanwhile, Tarricone's remains lay near the house on Canyon Road. It was a rental home, typically occupied by college students, according to owners who spoke to The News Tribune last summer. None of them knew what was under the ground.

Tarricone's family members filed a missing-person report in 1993, Troyer said. By that time, Tarricone had been dead for 15 years.

Establishing the victim's identity took months. Over time, several people had lived at the address, and some had links to possible crimes, complicating the task of identifying the remains and possible suspects.

An initial DNA test pointed to Tarricone, Troyer said, but further, more complicated tests are still under way. The first tests, coupled with information gathered by investigators since last summer, confirmed the victim's identity.

"This demonstrates the tenacity and skill our personnel show as they work on behalf of the victims and the community," Sheriff Paul Pastor said Monday.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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