TACOMA, WA – Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has charged Nicholas Edward Lane, 27, with murder in the first degree and attempted murder in the first degree for beating two people with a hammer inside a Tacoma home. Lane pleaded not guilty and is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
“This was a savage, unprovoked attack on two innocents,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “This inexplicable crime appears to be fueled, at least in part, by methamphetamine.”
On Sept. 8, 2015, Tacoma Police officers received a report of an assault with a hammer inside a home. When they arrived, officers found 78-year-old Joyce Coffel and her 57-year-old disabled son, Clifford Bennett, covered in blood from significant facial and head injuries. Coffel was sitting in a recliner and Bennett was laying on his bedroom floor. Coffel was transported to the hospital for treatment. Bennett died at the scene.
Officers located Lane in the backyard. He had put on a clean pair of pants over the blood-stained pair that he wore during the attack, and officers found his freshly-cut hair in the basement sink.
A witness living in the home told officers he heard Coffel scream and then saw Lane walking down the hall with a large hammer.
Lane’s mother, who lives in the basement, told officers that Lane was visiting her. She heard someone running back and forth on the floor above her, and then Lane came downstairs with a hammer and told her that he just killed two people. Lane’s mother told detectives that he had recently used methamphetamine and heroin. According to Lane, he had been up for three days without sleep.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office