Suspects charged in fatal JBLM soldier stabbing
Prosecutors have charged a Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier for the stabbing death of fellow soldier Spc. Tevin Geike along with two others for their role in the early Saturday morning attack in Lakewood.
Jeremiah Hill, 23, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder. He allegedly attacked Geike, 20, just as a verbal confrontation between two groups of soldiers was deescalating.
Hill has pleaded not guilty. He’s being held on $2 million bail.
Authorities also charged Cedarium Johnson and Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, both 21, with rendering criminal assistance, saying they aided in disposing of the murder weapon and bleaching and hiding a car.
Runnion-Bareford is being held on $250,000 bail and Johnson was released, but restricted to JBLM.
“This was a senseless and sad murder where a soldier killed a fellow soldier for no reason,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Our prayers go out to the family and friends of Specialist Geike. He served our country honorably, and it breaks our hearts to see him lose his life in a cowardly street stabbing.”
Police believe they have recovered the murder weapon used to stab the JBLM soldier to death. But they still don’t have a motive for the stabbing.
Geike, of Summerville, S.C., was walking with two other soldiers early Saturday when words were exchanged with someone in a car. The car stopped and five people confronted the three, police said.
The groups were separating after realizing they were all active duty soldiers when Geike was fatally stabbed.
Prosecutors said in charging documents Tuesday that an autopsy determined that Geike suffered a deep stab wound to his chest that cut through a rib and plunged through his heart.
A key piece of evidence was found Monday when searchers located the knife in a wooded area of Tillicum, about 3 miles from Lakewood where the soldier was killed.
Several suspects admitted during an interview the suspect threw the knife out of the car in effort to destroy the evidence, Lakewood Police chief Brett Farrar said.
“Lo and behold, about a half hour or hour into it we found what we believed to be the murder weapon,” he said.
The knife is considered crucial in helping convict the suspected attacker.
“The doctors and pathologists can do amazing things. They can match up cut wounds to the blades. And obviously we’ll be sending this to the lab to see if there’s any blood evidence or DNA evidence on that weapon.”
In an interview with KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don Show, Amy Johnson, a friend of Geike’s, says her boyfriend held the victim as he died while she looked on in shock.
“We kept calling and calling (911). ‘Somebody please get here. Our friend is dying, he’s bleeding out.’ I bent down, I reached for him, and then we saw the light leave his eyes.”
Johnson says everyone is at a loss as to what led to the attack.
“There must have been something that made him do that. I would understand if it was for PTSD … maybe Tevin looked at him the wrong way.”
Witnesses had said the attack potentially racially motivated. But both prosecutor Mark Lindquist and Farrar say there was no indication that there was racial hatred or that the men were seeking out people of a certain race to attack.
“The best we can do is gather as many facts and evidence and produce that to the prosecutor’s office and let them make a determination,” Farrar said.
Two of the five suspects are cooperating with law enforcement and were not being held in custody, authorities said.
Geike was an aviation operations specialist and a member of the 7th Infantry Division. He entered the Army in October 2010 and arrived at JBLM in April 2011.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.