Elderly Washington state man reportedly poisoned with fentanyl by pair he met on dating app – 24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today

Elderly Washington state man reportedly poisoned with fentanyl by pair he met on dating app – Latest International Breaking News Today

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Police in Washington state announced two suspects were arrested in connection with the murder of a missing elderly man who was allegedly poisoned with fentanyl by a pair who gained his trust through a dating app.

The Mercer Island Police released a statement saying Philip J. Brewer, 32, and Christina Hardy, 47, are facing charges for the murder of Curtis Engeland, 74, by using an elaborate scheme to defraud and murder him. 

Police said that Brewer and Hardy are believed to have become acquainted with Engeland several months ago and subsequently financially defrauded him.

Police also believe the suspects later violently confronted Engeland at his Mercer Island home in the late evening hours of February 23, and used Engeland’s vehicle to leave Mercer Island that night. 

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The following day, February 24, police said Engeland’s family reported him missing. Mercer Island police initially responded to Engeland’s residence and began investigating his disappearance as a missing person case. With initial details unclear whether he left willingly or was taken, a Silver Alert was issued by the Washington State Patrol.

Police said evidence then indicated Engeland was dead and the suspect were no longer in the Mercer Island area.

Mercer Island Police detectives and King County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue teams conducted a targeted search for Engeland’s remains in Grays Harbor County following clues from the evidence. Police said the search area was determined using GPS location history from the suspects’ cell phone activity.

During the following week, detectives compiled forensic information and determined the suspects left Washington State quickly after the victim was killed and fled south, rented different vehicles and swapped out new cell phones to cover their path.  

According to probable cause documents obtained by Fox 13, Brewer and Hardy admitted to another person that they injected Engeland with fentanyl to kill him and then drove out to Cosmopolis in Grays Harbor County to hide his body. However, at the dumpsite, the suspects realized Engeland was still alive, so they stabbed him in the neck, Fox 13 reported.

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The medical examiner’s officer determined that Engeland died from a “sharp force injury of the neck.”

Investigators said that Brewer used the dating app, Scruff, to gain Engeland’s trust. 

Prior to his murder, Engeland knew something was wrong immediately when he woke up in his home following his first meeting with Brewer back in January, according to documents obtained by Fox 13.

Fox 13 reported that the documents stated that Brewer and Engeland talked for about a week before their first date. According to court documents, Engeland invited Brewer over for a movie, but fell asleep. 

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When Engeland woke up, Brewer had reportedly disappeared, along with Engeland’s wallet, cell phone, house keys, car keys, driver’s license and social security card. 

Fox 13 reported that Brewer and Hardy, as well as Hardy’s son, tried to move into Engeland’s home, claiming that Engeland was allowing them to stay at his home. The documents stated the suspects also used the victim’s phone to create alibis. 

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On March 14, the suspects were taken into police custody in California, are being held on $5 million bail, and will be extradited back to Washington to face homicide charges. 

“First and foremost, we must acknowledge Mr. Engeland’s family – when this incident was first reported to police as a missing person, we hoped for a better outcome,” Mercer Island Police Chief Ed Holmes said. “The family remained determined to help our investigation over the past few weeks and we hope some comfort can be found through the hard work being done to bring justice for Curtis and his loved ones. We appreciate the community’s support as the police department was unable to share law enforcement-sensitive updates with the public until after our suspects were apprehended and know it was difficult to await answers in the wake of such terrible circumstances.” 

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-24 Global News | Latest International Breaking News Today
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