TACOMA, Wash. - According to charging documents, Matthew Leupold told police he had become possessed and was hearing voices in his head when he decapitated two women in a home in Tacoma's Lincoln district.
“This just a despicable act,” said Warren Clements, stepfather of Theresa Greenhalgh, one of the women killed.
The bodies of the 31-year-old Greenhalgh and 22-year-old Mary Buras were found by firefighters last week after the 32-year-old Leupold,
his 36-year-old sister Lindsey, and Lindsey's 15-year-old son allegedly cleaned up the crime scene and set the house on fire to cover up the murders.
“She should not have been taken from us so soon,” said Greenhalgh’s sister Jasmine Machen. “We just love her and miss her.”
According to a probable-cause affidavit filed in Pierce County Superior Court,
Leupold and the two women had been using drugs at the home on the night of January 4th, when he suddenly attacked Greenhalgh, punching her then hitting her with a framing hammer before turning on Buras.
The affidavit states he dragged the two into a bathroom, while they were still alive, and decapitated them using a utility knife a pocketknife and a hatchet.
Prosecutors said his 15-year-old nephew later led investigators to the head of one of the women that had been put inside a backpack and dumped.
Greenhalgh's stepfather, Warren Clements, said she was a mother of three children ranging in age from five months to nine years old. He said seeing Leupold in court after hearing details of the brutality of the murders was difficult.
“Anger, sadness, rage. It was just shocking, absolutely shocking,” Clements said.
Leupold's 15-year-old nephew was ordered held after an appearance in juvenile court -- and may face charges of rendering criminal assistance.
The teenager’s mother is already charged with that crime.
Investigators said Lindsey Leupold and her son were in the home when Matthew Leupold attacked the women but ran from the house before the murders.
Leupold pleaded not guilty to aggravated first-degree murder during a court appearance Wednesday and could face the death penalty. He was ordered held without bail.
“One of the factors that we take into account are the circumstances of the crime,” said Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist. “But under the statute it is the multiple victims [in this case] that rise to the level of aggravated murder.”
Lindquist’s office has 30 days to make a decision on whether or not to pursue the death penalty.
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