Investigators: Suspect in Vancouver stabbing facing murder charg - KPTV - FOX 12

Investigators: Suspect in Vancouver stabbing facing murder charges

Posted: Updated: Jul 17, 2017 04:33 PM
VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

A man accused of killing two Vancouver men at an apartment complex made his first appearance in court Monday.

Court documents show how brutal the crimes were, with investigators stating that one of the victims appeared to be stabbed more than 20 times in his head, torso and stomach.

Officers arrested Dustin L. Zapel Sunday and he was booked into the Clark County Jail. He was arraigned on two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of attempted premeditated murder. 

The two victims in the incident were identified as 55-year-old James Olsen and 42-year-old Thomas West. Investigators said Zapel also attempted to stab another resident of the apartment but that the man was able to get away from the scene.

According to court documents, the incident was recorded on a surveillance camera in a common area of the apartments, which serve as transitional housing for some residents.

Josh Palmer lives in the apartments, and he discovered the bodies of the two victims. Palmer told FOX 12 that at first, he thought West was sleeping.

“I noticed two feet up in the air in the chair, so I walked over and I said, ‘Hello, are you okay?’” he said. “Then I looked over and noticed it was Tom, and I was like, ‘Tom, are you okay?’”

Palmer also said he knows Zapel and mentioned that he had seen a recent change in his personality.

"He was kind strange off his medicine the last couple of months,” he told FOX 12. “He would talk to himself and giggle to himself.”

According to defense attorney James Sowder, Zapel has struggled for years with mental issues, and in court Monday, Zapel wore a suicide smock.

He also has a history of run-ins with the law, including assault and several charges dismissed because of mental incompetency.

According to court documents, Zapel confessed to the murders to police, telling them he woke up that morning and decided to "kill people.”

Prosecutors consider Zapel dangerous and asked for a $5 million bail. The judge agreed to $3 million.

Zapel's attorney is asking for a hearing to determine whether the bodies of the two victims should be preserved for evidence.

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