Everett man charged with fatal beating of landlord

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Snohomish County have charged a man with beating his landlord to death after being told his lease would not be renewed, while the suspect contends the killing was committed by intruders.

Frank Walton, 40, was charged with second-degree murder and evidence tampering in connection with the March 28 death of 67-year-old Howard Benzel, The Everett Herald reports.

A couple in Skagit County found Benzel’s body two day later more than 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Walton’s Everett apartment.

Court records say Walton said the killing was committed by two intruders who burst into the apartment and tried to force the victim into the tenant’s car. It wasn’t immediately clear if Walton had an attorney.

Benzel’s wife told police her husband failed to return after checking on the rental property. Her husband’s truck and cell phone were there when she arrived to look for him and she saw a man she identified as Walton cleaning blood from the sidewalk, police said.

Police located Walton at a friend’s apartment and found rags that smelled of chemicals, cleaning supplies, packaging materials, and rubber floor mats, all of which had evidence of blood, court records said.

Walton’s account of events “changed frequently and often did not (make) sense,” police said.

Walton told investigators two men “who appeared to be cartel members” broke into his apartment, along with the victim. They punched the landlord in the head, flashed guns and told Walton to mind his own business, court records said.

Walton remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail.