KENT, Wash. - A man charged for stalking homeless women, asking them for sex and shooting them multiple times in Kent last year pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.
James-David Joseph Algarin appeared in court Thursday. A judge prevented cameras from showing the suspect's face.
Detectives with the Kent Police Department (KPD) arrested the 36-year-old at Sea-Tac Airport as he was waiting to pick up friends. He is charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder, and state prosecutors are asking that he be held on a bond of $1.5 million.
According to court documents, Algarin allegedly shot two homeless women multiple times on the night of April 14, 2022. Investigators say he lured both victims into darkened areas, allegedly tried to have sex with them – even though there was no indication they were sex workers, and tried shooting them to death.
Detectives say there was a delay in the investigation because they were unable to analyze Algarin's cellphone records. Once investigators obtained new software that would allow them to unlock his phone, they discovered a trove of evidence such as GPS tracking, text messages and internet searches.
Court documents reveal that these two attempted murders happened within 36 minutes of each other.
The First Shooting
On April 14, 2022, at 11:01 p.m., KPD officers responded to Kent/James St. Park and Ride after someone called 911 saying they heard gunshots and saw a red car leave the area. When officers arrived, they found the victim laying on the ground with gunshot wounds in her chest and back. She was immediately treated and taken to Harborview Medical Center.
Witnesses told police they heard a loud pop, a flash of bright light and a red car leaving the area. They also said the same red car returned sometime later, and they witnessed the same pop and flash of light as before. Witnesses said there was at least one man inside the car, which had tinted windows, dark rims and decals.
The victim survived her injuries and was later interviewed by KPD officers.
She told police she remembered being picked up by the suspect near a 7-11 in Kent. She said he had a handgun holstered on his right hip. At one point, the suspect revealed his genitals to her and asked for sex. She told police she became disgusted and turned him down, which made him upset. She got out of the car, but only made it a few steps before getting shot.
According to court documents, detectives were able to obtain surveillance footage showing the driver shooting her as she walked away. Video shows the driver leaving the scene, but later returning.
When being interviewed, the victim said she believed she was going to die. After the suspect left, she crawled into a bush to hide, but the suspect came back to shoot her again. Court documents reveal that the driver can be seen on video returning to the scene, and shooting her again to end her suffering.
After analyzing Algarin's phone, investigators found through GPS tracking that he had driven home close by. Prosecutors say they assume he went home to equip himself with a .223 caliber AR-15 to hunt more homeless women.
The Second Shooting
At 11:37 p.m. the same night, KPD officers responded to another shooting near the corner of E Saar St. and Railroad Ave. S. According to the KPD, someone called 911 saying they found a woman who was laying in the road with multiple gunshot wounds.
When police arrived, they found the victim with at least one gunshot to the back of her head, two gunshots in her buttocks and leg. Medical personnel arrived, and immediately brought her to Harborview Medical Center for treatment. Authorities did not expect her to survive, but she did.
Authorities said they tried interviewing her in June 2022 after she had time to recover from her traumatic injuries, but she could not recall any important details about the shooting.
According to court documents, detectives were able to locate surveillance footage of this incident as well. Video from that night shows the victim walking in a dark street, with a red Subaru WRX following her.
Surveillance video shows the victim approach his car, stick her head inside and quickly walk away. That's when prosecutors say Algarin allegedly fired two shots from his AR-15 – both missing her. He then adjusts his aim, and fired additional shots with one hitting her in the leg and the head. After she falls to the ground, the car then stops near her lifeless body. Investigators believe this was Algarin attempting to ensure she was dead.
The red Subaru WRX
According to court documents, it was not initially known that both shootings were related. It wasn't until investigators sifting through surveillance footage were able to identify the distinct red Subaru WRX with assorted decals.
Detectives were able to obtain high-resolution photos of the car and discovered custom lettering on the sidewalls of all four tires. The writing appeared to have the words "My" and "Token". One decal on the car's window read "N7" which is associated with the Mass Effect videogame, and another on the rear window was a white Mandalorian sticker.
Detectives then got ahold of a company that sells custom lettering for tires called Tredwear.com. After searching their order history, an employee found a record for sale to a James Algarin. The custom stickers that read "My Chains Are Broken" were mailed to his address in Kent. Detectives were then able to determine that the phrase contained the letters consistent with "My" and "Token".
Algarin's text messages
According to court documents, detectives obtained judicial authority to receive real-time location data on Algarin's phone number. They discovered he had sent 42 text messages to another phone number the night leading up to the shootings. It was later revealed that the two were friends. Because of this, detectives applied and were granted permission by a judge to search Algarin's friend's phone – which revealed the texting conversation from April 14.
The conversation starts with a news article reading, "Arizona man arrested after 183 frozen animals allegedly found in his freezer, some believed to have been frozen alive". According to court documents, the conversation read:
- "If you need target practice…"
- Algarin: "Time for a murder"
- "I know nothing"
- Algarin: "Good"
- "I'm going to bed, just give me a heads up when you're coming over in the morning."
- Algarin: "When it's early"
- "I'll aim to be ready by 6-6:30"
- Algarin: "Alright"
- Algarin: "Watch my dogs if I don't come back"
- Algarin: "Just kick the door down"
- Algarin: "You know nothing"
- Algarin: "Less homeless ppl"
Detectives were also granted permission to search Algarin's phone and car. On May 5, 2022, detectives showed up to Algarin's workplace, and seized his phone and car. The evidence from Algarin's phone was not obtained until after police received new software to unlock his password-protected phone.
Alagarin's Google searches
According to court documents, after unlocking Algarin's phone, detectives were able to find his Google search history following the April 14 shootings. Detectives found 28 searches related to Kent shootings in the U.S., King County cold cases, and Unsolved murders in Washington state.
Algarin is now being held on two separate counts of attempted murder in the first degree, with bail set at $1.5 million.
Both of the women survived the attacks, but the victim who was shot in the head has life-changing injuries that will permanently affect her life.