TACOMA, WA – Today, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Jeffrey Cooke, 32, Melissa Bourgault, 33, Mark Stredicke, 37, Eric Elliser, 33, and Shane McKrittrick, 32, with Murder in the Second Degree and Conspiracy to Commit Murder in the Second Degree. The five defendants participated in the stabbing death of Derek Wagner, 27. The four male defendants and the victim have ties to the Aryan Skins Kindred (ASK) prison gang.
“This is a case of white supremacists killing one of their own,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “The victim was murdered for violating the gang’s own code.”
On November 16, Cooke picked up the victim from a mutual friend’s house in Yelm and drove him to Cooke’s home in Tacoma. Within three hours, the four other defendants arrived at Cooke’s home. A short time later, everyone left in multiple vehicles. Cooke drove the victim to Elliser’s house, where the group confronted the victim for two violations of their gang’s code of conduct. They accused the victim of having an affair with Stredicke’s wife and associating with a rival gang.
After the meeting, the victim was stabbed. He ran away, but collapsed and bled to death. The following afternoon, a man discovered the body in his yard and called police. Near the victim’s body, police found a Ka Bar knife, which Cooke is known to carry. According to the medical examiner, the victim was stabbed three times, including a fatal stab wound to the heart.
The victim’s murder was featured by Crime Stoppers of Tacoma/Pierce County.
The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned today at 1:30pm in Courtroom 270 of the County-City Building in Tacoma. Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Heather Songer, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office