HERCULES — Police say a West Covina man and his wife arrested this week near Seattle after a jail escape, several carjackings and the shooting of a deputy in South El Monte are the prime suspects in the killing of a retired schoolteacher during a home-invasion in the San Francisco suburb of Hercules last week
Hercules police spokesman Connie Van Putten says after traveling to Washington and interviewing 24-year-old Darnell Keith Washington and his wife, 25-year-old Tania Lejune Washington, detectives believe the two are responsible for the death of Susie Ko.
The 55-year-old Ko was found dead on the floor of her home by neighbors on Oct. 5.
The Washingtons were arrested Wednesday in SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle, driving a Subaru station wagon taken from Ko’s home. The couple allegedly rammed police cars repeatedly in an attempt to continue fleeing before being taken into custody.
They were also wanted for an alleged crime spree in Southern California, which began with Darnell Washington escaping from San Bernardino Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center in San Bernardino with the help of his wife Aug. 27, officials said.
They were already linked to at least one carjacking when a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy assigned to the sheriff’s Temple Station spotted the couple at a 7-Eleven store at Durfee Avenue and Michael Hunt Drive in South El Monte on Sept. 2, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Michael Parker said in the hours after the shooting. They opened fire on the deputy with a shotgun, resulting in only minor injuries from the blast of shotgun pellets.
The deputy returned fire, officials said, however it was unknown if the either Washington had been injured in the exchange before fleeing the scene in a previously carjacked SUV.
The deputy-involved shooting intensified the hunt for the already wanted prison escapee and his wife.
Darnell and Tania Washington carjacked another vehicle in South Gate within an hour of the South El Monte shoot-out and disappeared.
Booking records in King County, Washington, where the couple was being held, indicate they have been booked on suspicion of murder, assault, weapons charges, vehicle theft and attempting to elude police.
In a recorded voicemail message Saturday, Van Putten said no further information regarding the homicide investigation would be released, “until sometime next week.”
Darnell Washington was being held without bail, according to booking records, while Tania Washington was being held in lieu of $3 million bail. Information regarding their initial court appearance was not available.
PHOTOS of Darnell and Tania Washington courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department