Soldier charged with murder in Kirkland woman's slaying; friend says suspect, victim knew each other

Scarlett Paxton, 19. - Contributed
Scarlett Paxton, 19.
— image credit: Contributed

The King County Prosecutor’s Office has charged a Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) soldier with first-degree murder in the Nov. 30 slaying of a Kirkland woman.

Dakota Miles Wolf, 19, allegedly stabbed 19-year-old Scarlett Paxton to death with a large chef’s knife at her apartment in the Juanita neighborhood.

Wolf is currently in custody at JBLM after being absent without leave (AWOL) from the army for almost one month. During his absence from the military, he stayed in Kirkland at a friend’s house after a falling out with his mother on Nov. 28, according to Kirkland police records.

Kirkland police have issued a warrant for his arrest and are working with the military to arrange an eventual transfer of custody.

Though he has no documented criminal history, officials believe Wolf poses a grave risk to the community, so his bail was set at $2 million.

If convicted, Wolf faces 22-28 years in prison, which includes a deadly weapon enhancement.

Kirkland detectives identified Wolf as a person of interest in the investigation earlier this week.

Detectives continue to explore a link between Paxton and Wolf, however a close friend of the victim told the Reporter that they knew each other.

“We used to all hang out at the Kirkland Teen Union Building all the time together,” said the friend, who asked not to be identified. “(Scarlett) never really liked Dakota too much … pretty sure he didn’t like her either. I never thought he’d do something like this.”

Paxton went for a walk with her boyfriend around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 30 near their Hidden Firs Apartment complex in the 12800 block of 132nd Ave. N.E. Paxton left shortly after she became upset about her perceived intentions behind her boyfriend’s asking her to accompany him on a walk, according to police records. She told him she was going back to the couple’s apartment to call a friend.

When her boyfriend returned home, he called 911 at 2:50 a.m. after he found his girlfriend slumped over in front of their second-floor apartment unit.

Paxton died soon after and her death was ruled a homicide by a sharp forced injury to her neck. Further examination of her injuries revealed lacerations to her chin, neck, thumb, hand and a cut above her knee, all consistent with defensive knife wounds, according to police records.

During the investigation, detectives noted blood near the ground-level units with possible blood spatter on two unit doors, according to charging documents. They also recovered a dark pea coat and a butcher knife from the scene, the documents continue.

Authorities also found blood on a dumpster, exterior walls and on the ground behind Albertson’s. In addition, investigators recovered a small table knife, Paxton’s winter hat, and various pieces of garbage with blood evidence.

DNA profiles obtained from samples taken behind Albertson’s and a trail of blood from the alley behind the store to the initial crime scene matched Paxton’s DNA, according to police documents.

A partial palm and fingerprint were noted along the north-side wall of the building where Juanita Albertson’s and Rite Aid are located. The Crime Laboratory identified both prints as belonging to Wolf.

Police believe Wolf, who was allegedly armed with a large chef’s knife, initially attacked Paxton in one location and then chased her to her apartment complex where he completed the attack, according to charging documents.

Video evidence obtained from Radford & Company Commercial Real Estate, Washington Federal Savings and Union 76 show a white man who appears to be Wolf as he moves north bound parallel to 100th Ave. N.E.

The male is first seen one block north of the crime scene at 2:37 a.m. on Nov. 30, approximately 14 minutes before Paxton’s boyfriend called 911. The clothing the male was wearing in the video was consistent with clothing later recovered from Wolf’s room where he was staying in Kirkland.

The videos also show the suspect traveling north on the west side of 100th Ave. N.E. in the 138000 block and out of sight. No other subjects were seen taking the same route during the time frame of Paxton’s murder.

On the afternoon of Nov. 30, a JBLM official reported to Kirkland police that Wolf was AWOL and was staying at a residence in the 14200 block of 95th Ave. N.E., about a mile-and-half from where the victim lived.

He said he talked to the homeowner, who expressed concern that Wolf had possibly been involved in the homicide, according to police records.

The homeowner said Wolf had sustained an injury to his leg early that morning consistent with a sharp-edged weapon, and he returned to the residence wearing bloody clothing at approximately 3 a.m., the records continue.

Wolf was arrested at the residence on Nov. 30 and taken into custody at JBLM on his AWOL status. This was his third time going AWOL from the military.

During a search of the Kirkland home, investigators found a pile of bloody clothing and towels between Wolf’s bed and closet where he was staying in a basement bedroom, according to police documents.

Authorities also found three empty sheaths missing Cutco brand knives, the same brand as the knife recovered at the crime scene. The knives belonged to the homeowner’s son, who was a Cutco sales representative.

A relative of the homeowner where Wolf was staying later told investigators that at around 11 p.m. on Nov. 30, Wolf came upstairs and said he had difficulty sleeping, the documents continue.

He later told the relative that he had gone for a walk around 3 a.m. and claimed he slipped and fell on some glass during the walk, causing a laceration to the back of his right leg. Wolf showed her the injury that was still bleeding. The relative told police that Wolf later changed his story and said he was injured when he walked downhill on a sidewalk and slipped on some leaves.

Police also recovered the pants that Wolf was wearing that morning from his bedroom, which had a cut through the pants in the same area as Wolf’s wound, police documents stated. The cut was consistent with a sharp knife, police said.

DNA profiles obtained from three blood samples taken from the pants matched the DNA profile of Paxton, according to police documents. The estimated probability noted of selecting an unrelated individual at random from the U.S. population with a matching profile is 1 in 100 quintillion, the documents noted.

Several parties residing at the Kirkland home where Wolf was staying also told police that Wolf showed a high level of interest in the media coverage of Paxton’s homicide.

One of Wolf’s friends also told police that on Wolf’s request he drove his friend to the crime scene and Wolf displayed a fascination with the news coverage surrounding the murder.

Wolf denied any association with the homicide or Paxton, but he admitted to police that he was in the same area where the victim died early in the night. He also told police he was addicted to smoking spice and that he smoked spice on the night Paxton was murdered. Spice is synthetic cannabis that can cause hallucinations and paranoid behavior.

Wolf also told detectives he has issues with “paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety and memory issues,” as well as anger management issues.

Police believe the violent attack was unprovoked and random, according to charging documents.

The defendant is scheduled for arraignment on Dec. 28 at the King County Courthouse.


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