Murder of RediCab driver prompts questions about US Army deserter

Jan 30, 2024, 3:43 PM | Updated: 5:06 pm

redicab driver murder...

RediCab driver Nick Hokema (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

A person of interest is in custody in connection with the murder of a RediCab driver killed at the Westfield Southcenter parking lot in Tukwila two weeks ago.

The Tukwila Police Department said the person is in custody with another agency on unrelated charges and King County officials confirmed to KIRO Newsradio the other agency is Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM).

KIRO Newsradio has reached out to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division (CID) to determine if that person is Specialist Jonathan Kang Lee, a deserter last seen Jan. 14 at JBLM. He was arrested last Friday.

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Nicholas Hokema, 34, of Tumwater was driving a RediCab overnight on Jan. 14 — the same day Lee was last seen. Tukwila police said someone found Hokema early Monday morning, unconscious, lying in the parking lot of Westfield Southcenter, about 55 miles from his home.

Hokema later died in the city of SeaTac. A medical examiner determined he was killed by “multiple sharp object injuries.”

Hokema’s red 2012 Toyota Camry with RediCab markings was spotted in unincorporated Redmond in the middle of the day on Jan. 19, but the driver fled before police arrived. Tukwila police confirmed they had located the car in the Redmond area this past weekend in the same area  where Lee was arrested, according to The News Tribune in Tacoma.

Calls to the Redmond Police Department asking for information about Lee are being referred to Tukwila police with no details provided.

On Jan. 19, five days after he disappeared, Lee was convicted of three counts of rape of a child and three counts of committing a lewd act upon a child at a general court-martial at JBLM. The military judge sentenced him to 64 years in confinement and ordered Lee to be discharged from the service with a dishonorable discharge.

“Specialist Jonathan Kang Lee, a deserter of the U.S. Army, was apprehended by the Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division with the assistance of local authorities on Jan. 26 and transferred to military custody,” an Army Criminal Investigation Division spokesperson said in a prepared statement.

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Follow-up questions on any possible connections to Hokema’s murder were not returned.

Tukwila police have also not confirmed if the two cases are related. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says they are waiting for charges to be forwarded to them by Tukwila police.

You can read more of Kate Stone’s stories here. Follow Kate on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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