TACOMA, WA – Today the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Matthew Ryan Leupold, 32, with two counts of aggravated murder and first degree arson for the brutal deaths of Theresa Greenhalgh, 31, and Mary Buras, 22.
Because of the nature of the crime, this is a potential death penalty case.
“Before I make a decision on the death penalty, we will gather as much information as possible about the defendant, the victims, and the surrounding circumstances,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “We always want to make the right decisions for the right reasons."
On January 6, 2017, just before 3am, the Tacoma Fire Department responded to 3714 S. Yakima Ave., in regard to a house fire. The fire was mostly confined to the upstairs bathroom.
After extinguishing the fire, officers went upstairs and found one badly burned body inside the bathroom, and another body, also badly burned, in the bathtub of that bathroom.
One of the victim’s hands were bound, and both victims had been decapitated. The badly burned head of one victim was located in the bathroom. The head of the other victim was discovered later, stuffed into a backback, discarded at a different location.
Sources led officers to the defendants, Leupold, his sister, Lindsey Leupold, 36, and a juvenile defendant identified only as D.L..
Mr. Leupold admitted that on January 4, 2017, sometime after dark, he was at the residence where the murders occurred. He said both victims, and D.L., were there as well. Mr. Leupold said all of them were in the upstairs bedroom consuming drugs, and at one point Mr. Leupold said he became possessed and throughout a period of time he was hearing voices in his head telling him to “kill her.”
Mr. Leupold said he then began to assault Greenhalgh by striking her in the head with fists and a framing hammer. Then Mr. Leupold said he turned his attention to Buras who was sitting on a nearby bed, and struck her in the head multiple times with the hammer.
Over the next hour or so, Mr. Leupold said he dragged both victims into the bathroom where he cut both of their heads off with a utility knife, a pocket knife, and a hatchet. He stated he tied one of the victim’s hands together only after he had decapitated her. However, when asked, he said he believed they were both still alive when he cut their heads off.
Significantly, the medical examiner identified defensive wounds on both victims’ hands consistent with defending themselves from an attack with a sharp, blade-type weapon. Additionally, the medical examiner has given an opinion that forensic evidence supports that one of the victims was indeed alive at the time she was decapitated.
Mr. Leupold said after the murders, he stayed behind, but Lindsey Leupold and D.L. left. He said they did not participate in the murders, however, he said Lindsey Leupold came back the next day and helped try to clean up the house. Additionally, he said D.L. came back late the next night and helped try to get rid of evidence and light the house on fire.
Lindsey Leupold is charged with rendering criminal assistance. Her bail is set at $500,000.00
The juvenile, D.L., is expected to be charged with arson and rendering criminal assistance. He’s due in court at Remann Hall tomorrow.
Leupold is a convicted felon, recently released from prison. He is being held without bail.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more information, please contact James Lynch at (253) 798-6265, [email protected].