• ‘He loved being the outcast,' mentor once said of Tacoma artist charged with killing father

    By: Kenny Ocker, The News Tribuen

    Updated:

    TACOMA, Wash. - The Tacoma man who prosecutors say killed his father last week is a wood sculptor whose artwork has been featured internationally.

    Kurt Otto Youngers, who goes by his middle name publicly, was charged Friday in Pierce County Superior Court with one count of first-degree murder in the early Thursday shooting death of his 78-year-old father, Otto.

    The son, 53, is being held at Pierce County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

    Youngers is known for his work with wood, which included an archway and bench near the intersection of Center and Tyler streets in Tacoma that was the subject of a 2006 News Tribune feature. The wooden sculptures, constructed in 2001 with $5,000 in money from the City of Tacoma Arts Commission, no longer stands.

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    He told The News Tribune at that time that he hoped his works could spawn further creativity to help beautify what had been a blighted area.

    “That’s how you create a community,” Youngers said.

    At that time, Youngers was employed by day maintaining the public art at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

    Youngers’ work also was featured in a 2011 production of “Something Wicked This Way Comes” at Lakewood Playhouse, where he designed animals featured in the play’s set.

    He also had works featured in multiple iterations of Tacoma’s First Night, the annual New Year’s Eve celebration downtown.

    A 2008 profile of Youngers in CityArts, the monthly Puget Sound arts magazine, focused on his style of using found wood to make surrealistic sculptures, garnering him international acclaim.

    Youngers, an only child, grew up in Kansas before moving with his father to Salt Lake City, CityArts reported. He returned to the Midwest to get a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas before getting a master’s of fine arts at the San Francisco Art Institute.

    The story reported that Youngers’ left a “bad home situation” at age 16 and supported himself with jobs and soccer scholarships.

    “He loved being the outcast,” artistic mentor Roger Shimamura told the magazine. “It was exactly the kind of thing he fed off of.”

    Neighbors described Youngers as unfriendly and said he’d been acting strangely in recent weeks. The father and son lived in adjacent houses, where the gates were often closed.

    According to court records, Youngers told Tacoma police after the killing that his father was a “monster” and that he shot him because he wouldn’t admit to killing John F. Kennedy or to being a Nazi.
     

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