BOTHELL, Wash. - The Bothell retirement community flanking Woodcrest Drive NE is sleepy. It’s quiet. It’s well maintained. Wednesday night it was no different, except there was yellow crime tape wrapped around the home of 91-year-old John Staeber.
Staeber is at Harborview Medical Center. Bothell Police say he is in the ICU, fighting for his life after he was attacked by a woman who lived with him.
Neighbors identify her as 52-year-old Anna Marie Ward. They say Staeber allowed her to move in a few years ago when she hit hard financial times. Shortly after, Staeber’s health began to decline. They say he had a difficult surgery, then he had a minor stroke. Now, he is struggling to survive a bloody attack.
Bothell police say Ward called police on Tuesday morning. Sergeant Ken Seuberlich could not say whether Ward had called 911 or the department directly, nor could he give many details about the call. But he did say that whoever answered heard something that made him send officers to check on the house.
When they did, they found Staeber with life-threatening injuries inside. They took Ward into custody.
Some neighbors in the retirement community have visited Staeber, including a friend of Don Pelham. “A friend of mine went down and saw him at Harborview,” Pelham said. “He said he walked in the room and didn’t even recognize him. His face was all swollen.” Pelham also said the victim remembered what happened. “She walloped on him pretty bad with a cane and a light fixture.”
Bothell Police say they are working to confirm whether there was any weapon used in the attack.
Ward was booked into King County Jail on attempted homicide charges.
Meanwhile, the retirement community is stunned. They remember seeing the suspect doing a lot of work around the victim’s house. They’d frequently seen her help him run errands. They never saw any problems.
They noticed that in recent months Ward had accumulated several new vehicles. They found it odd, but not suspicious.
Now those vehicles are also wrapped in yellow tape—right in the middle of the quiet community where people like Don Pelham came to retire.
“We never saw that coming.”