December 14, 2011 in City, News

Son’s nightmares about ‘dead lady’ led to man’s murder arrest

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A 4-year-old boy’s nightmares about “a dead lady” and his description of how she died led homicide detectives to arrest his father in the slaying of a Stevens County woman, according to new court documents.

The boy’s mother contacted Child Protective Services on Nov. 24 - two days before the decomposing body of Narleen B. Campton, 62, was discovered in her Northport home about 10 miles south of the Canadian border.

Detectives investigating Campton’s death had heard the boy’s father, Robert Cody Wirtz, had connections to Campton through her son. They interviewed the boy after learning of the CPS report and concluded he knew details of Campton’s homicide that had never been publicly released.

The boy asked detectives if they knew what his father had done when they sat down to talk to him Dec. 7. The detectives inquired, and the boy replied, “He killed a lady,” according to court documents filed Tuesday in Stevens County Superior Court.

Wirtz, 30, is in the Stevens County Jail on $750,000 bond. He’s to be arraigned Tuesday on charges of aggravated first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. His son is in protective custody, said Tim Rasmussen, Stevens County prosecutor.

Detectives believe Wirtz, who knew Campton’s son was in jail, killed Campton during a drug-fueled robbery. Sheriff Kendle Allen has said he believes others were involved and more arrests are expected.

Rasmussen said Wednesday the investigation is “absolutely” ongoing.

“There are materials at the crime lab that we’re waiting for forensic reports on,” Rasmussen said.

Detectives found at least two sets of bloody footprints in Campton’s home, and Wirtz’s son named two other people as being present when his father strangled Campton, according to court documents.

An autopsy concluded Campton died of blunt force and sharp trauma, including tortuous incisions on her face, but was also strangled, documents say.

Aggravated first-degree murder is the only charge in Washington that can bring the death penalty if convicted, but Rasmussen said he is not seeking death and has filed second-degree murder has an alternative charge.

Campton’s friend, Bo Wiley, told detectives on Nov. 26, the day a concerned neighbor found her decomposing body in her home at 4158 Old Northport Highway Road, that he’d driven Campton to the grocery store recently because her 32-year-old son, Azariah E. Hulsey, had taken her car, gotten arrested and was in jail.

Wiley said Hulsey’s girlfriend wanted to visit but Campton was reluctant because the woman “had problems with methamphetamine and had stolen from her in the past.” Campton said the woman came to her home at the end of October with two men but left after she was told Hulsey was in jail, Wiley told police.

According to court records, Hulsey’s girlfriend is friends with Wirtz.

On Nov. 30, detectives interviewed Wirtz’s roommate at a motel and were told Wirtz returned after Thanksgiving and appeared “freaked out.” The roommate said Hulsey’s girlfriend “had gotten cross with her drug dealer and that Wirtz was likely trying to help her pay back the debt.”

But it wasn’t until detectives learned of the CPS report and spoke to Wirtz’s son that they developed probable cause to arrest him, according to court documents.

Detectives called to arrange a second interview with the boy last week and were told by his mother that he continued “to suffer from nightmares, was sleep walking, and was crying about bad things,” according to court documents. The boy’s mother told detectives some of what he’d said he’d witnessed. Detectives say the boy included “details regarding the death of Ms. Campton that had not been released,” according to court documents.

Wirtz was arrested on Dec. 8.


There are three comments on this story. Click here to view comments >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email