Person of interest located following discovery of body buried in Bothell yard

Law enforcement located Richard “Rick” Nelson within hours of a public alert.

Richard “Rick” Nelson. Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office

Richard “Rick” Nelson. Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office

A person of interest in a Bothell cold case homicide has been located by detectives

Richard “Rick” Nelson, 43, contacted Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives May 31 within hours of a public alert that police hoped to talk with him about the death of Michael Powell, of Mill Creek, whose skeletal remains were believed to be unearthed May 22 in a backyard in the 19900 block of 8th Avenue Southeast, north of Bothell.

A tip advised detectives to dig up a yard north of Bothell, at a neighborhood off Filbert Drive.

Powell had not been in touch with family since the early 1990s, when he was in his early 30s. He had no apparent ties to the current residents of the home, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. Civil court records suggest Nelson’s mother lived at a split-level house in the neighborhood in the 1990s.

Detectives believe the death was homicide, Ireton said. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office was still working to confirm exactly how he died.

The medical examiner’s office has not officially identified the deceased as Powell.

The sheriff’s office declined to release details about why they hoped to speak with Nelson specifically, or any connection between the two men.

However, Nelson reportedly once confided to his then-wife that he’d buried a man’s body in a yard at a family home, but claimed he didn’t carry out the killing, according to a story she recounted in divorce papers in late 2018.

“He told me not to tell,” the woman wrote. “It was hard knowing that there was a body buried in my backyard where my children played.”

Shortly after Nelson was located, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said Nelson had not been arrested and he was still considered a person of interest, not a suspect. No other updates were made public by the Reporter’s Monday deadline.

Court papers show two women filed for protection orders against Nelson in the past year.

The longer-term partner, in her 40s, wrote Nelson ran a water heater business in Snohomish County in the 2000s, until the family moved to Bonney Lake around 2012. She wrote she’d confronted him about infidelity last August.

“I told him to leave,” she wrote. “As he was packing he made sure I heard him cocking his pistol. I don’t know if he was going to shoot us or not.”

She alleged he’d been taking anabolic steroids for about 10 years. Nelson submitted a drug test that was negative for marijuana and other drugs. But it showed his creatinine levels were over 150 times higher than normal, a possible sign of steroid use.

The other woman, an ex-fiancée in her 30s, alleged in a sworn statement in June 2018 that Nelson raped her multiple times, stalked her and threatened to kill himself in front of her children.

“He owns many guns,” she wrote. “In the past he suggested driving off a bridge. Or going hiking into the snow and allowing himself to freeze to death.”

A change of address notice in a Pierce County court said he moved to the Puyallup area in March.

Detectives hope to find out more about Powell’s whereabouts in the 1990s. He had not been reported missing until recently, Ireton said.

Tips can be directed to the sheriff’s office at 425-388-3845.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

Michael Powell

Michael Powell

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