A soldier from Maine has been accused of disposing of a knife that authorities in Washington state say was used in the murder of another soldier last weekend, then trying to clean up blood left in a car.
Army Spc. Ajoni Runnion-Bareford, 21, of Islesboro, who is based at Fort Lewis, Wash., was driving a car carrying four other soldiers who got into a verbal confrontation with three men walking along a street in the nearby city of Lakewood around 2:40 a.m. on Saturday, according to a document filed in Pierce County Superior Court in Washington.
Runnion-Bareford stopped the car and got out with three of his friends to confront the three men. He and two of his friends backed off after realizing that the men were also soldiers, according to the document, which was filed by Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor Philip Sorensen.
One of the men from the car, Jeremiah Hill, 23, grabbed one of the walkers, Tevin Geike, and put him in what witnesses called a “bear hug,” then returned to the car with the others, covered in blood, Sorensen said in the court filing.
Hill told the others as he got in the car that he “cut” the victim, and they drove away. As they went south on Interstate 5, Runnion-Bareford took the knife from Hill and threw it into brush along the highway, Sorensen said, and later told police that he had.
When police arrived at the scene of the stabbing, Geike, 20, of South Carolina, was unresponsive on the sidewalk and declared dead. An autopsy determined that he suffered “a deep stab wound to the front chest that cut through a rib and plunged through his heart,” the prosecutor said in his filing.
While police were investigating, Runnion-Bareford allegedly returned to his post at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and tried to clean the blood from his car.
“He parked the car several blocks from his barracks to avoid detection.
“Once he learned that Hill had been arrested he again tried to clean the car of blood, this time using bleach. Investigators said when they spoke to Runnion-Bareford, (he) smelled like bleach,” Sorensen said in his filing.
Runnion-Bareford is charged with rendering criminal assistance in the first degree, a charge commonly referred to in other states as being an accessory after the fact of murder.
He is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail. His case is tentatively set for trial Dec. 4.
Hill, who joined the Army this year and is from Chicago, is being held on $2 million bail.
Another man who is charged with rendering assistance in connection with the murder, Cadarium Johnson, 21, of Texas, was released and ordered contained on the Army base.
Attempts to reach Runnion-Bareford’s family in Islesboro, off the coast between Camden and Belfast, were unsuccessful. His attorney, Guarav Sharma, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:firstname.lastname@example.org