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Man Arrested After Rubbish Bags Filled With Human Remains Discovered In His Apartment

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Man Arrested After Rubbish Bags Filled With Human Remains Discovered In His Apartment

A man has been charged after two bags filled with his roommate's remains were found inside their apartment by the victim's family.

On the morning of Monday, 2 May, 41-year-old Richard Lavietes failed to show up to work.

Police were called by one of his co-workers who asked them to conduct a welfare check on him.

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The friend expressed concern that Lavietes may have been hurt by his roommate, 44-year-old Nicholas L. Van Cleave, because he had taken away Van Cleave's gun, as per the charging documents.

A man has been charged after his roommate's remains were found in two bin bags in their apartment. Credit: Alamy
A man has been charged after his roommate's remains were found in two bin bags in their apartment. Credit: Alamy

Police went to the property, located near the 1300 block of SW Campus Drive in Federal Way, Washington, however left when there was no answer.

According to the documents, a member of Lavietes family requested another welfare check just hours later.

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Lavietes family said he 'abruptly stopped responding in the middle of their conversation' via text and that they'd last heard from him on 1 May.

They also alleged Van Cleave was mentally unstable.

Nicholas Van Cleave and Richard Lavietes apartment was located near the 1300 block of SW Campus Drive. Credit: Google Maps
Nicholas Van Cleave and Richard Lavietes apartment was located near the 1300 block of SW Campus Drive. Credit: Google Maps

Members of Lavietes' family and an officer from Federal Way police department met outside the apartment at 2:53pm.

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The family claimed that as they tried to go inside the property, Van Cleave told them they shouldn't.

Expressing concern for Lavietes' cat, his family were eventually allowed in by the roommate.

Lavietes' vehicle was later found in the apartment unit's garage. His phone was discovered at the apartment.

However, Van Cleave told the officer and his roommate's family that Lavietes had gone camping two days ago.

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An officer from Federal Way Police Department accompanied Lavietes family to the apartment. Credit: Alamy
An officer from Federal Way Police Department accompanied Lavietes family to the apartment. Credit: Alamy

The documents stated Van Cleave tried to prevent the family and officer from going upstairs.

He allegedly had a folding knife removed from his possession by the officer and told them there was an unloaded gun by a bed upstairs while he smoked a cigarette outside accompanied by the official.

The documents stated Lavietes' family went upstairs to the master bathroom and found two large bin bags with blood on them and human remains inside.

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The remains were identified as Lavietes' by the King County Medical Examiner's Office.

Two witnesses later came forward to police. One alleged that on the morning of 2 May they'd heard repetitive banging sounds.

The other claimed that on the afternoon on 1 May they'd seen Van Cleave park around the corner of the apartment block and go to and from his vehicle on multiple occasions.

King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the remains found in the two bin bags. Credit: Alamy
King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the remains found in the two bin bags. Credit: Alamy

Police were informed by one of Lavietes' friends that the 41-year-old had told Van Cleave to find somewhere else to stay after he came home with a gun, also taking the gun out of his possession.

Van Cleave had previously been sighted with a 9mm pistol on 31 March.

He was reported to police, however he was identified as the registered owner of the gun and so was allowed to keep it.

A machete, large kitchen knife, bloody socks and Lavietes' phone were later found alongside the pistol in one of the apartment's bedrooms.

The charging documents stated that there was also blood evidence, fired bullets and other concealed body parts found in the apartment.

It was ascertained that Lavietes had been shot five times in the back of the head between 1 and 2 May.

Van Cleave's arraignment is set to take place at the King County Courthouse. Credit: Alamy
Van Cleave's arraignment is set to take place at the King County Courthouse. Credit: Alamy

In the documents, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Aubony G. Burns wrote: "After murdering the victim, the defendant then took the extensive and extreme steps to hide the crime including dismembering the victim’s body, concealing the remains in multiple places throughout the home, and then concocting an elaborate story to cover up his act of murder when contacted by police."

On Thursday, 5 May, Van Cleave was charged with first-degree murder.

His bail has been set at $2 million, while his arraignment is set to take place at the King County Courthouse on Thursday, 19 May.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677 

Featured Image Credit: Kiro 7 News

Topics: News, US News, Crime

Poppy Bilderbeck
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