By Kyra Low and Wendy Giroux
Last week’s fatal stabbing was not the first time that Tomasz Matczak’s girlfriend had wielded a knife against him, according to his claims in court documents.
Matczak told court officials earlier this summer that she had run at him with a knife, threatening to kill him, on at least three prior occasions.
His 19-year-old girlfriend was released from the King County Jail on Wednesday, pending further investigation of his Aug. 1 death. Prosecutors did not make a decision about whether to file charges within the 72-hour deadline. That does occur occasionally, but is somewhat uncommon, particularly in a potential murder case, King County Prosecutor’s spokesman Dan Donohoe said.
“We’re devastated by the decision,” said a spokesman for Matczak’s family who asked not to be named. “It’s an injustice.” A private memorial service was held Wednesday at Greenwood Memorial Park Cemetery and Funeral Home in Renton.
Police believe that the suspect stabbed 21-year-old Matczak one time in the chest during a fight Aug. 1 at the WindSong Apartments in the 600 block of Front Street South, according to court documents. She has told detectives that she was acting in self defense, which is part of the reason that police and prosecutors wanted to continue their investigation.
“Cases like this aren’t easy, especially in this situation where one is deceased and one is remaining,” Deputy Chief Steve Cozart said. “Sometimes it’s better to kick them loose and give us time to gather more information.”
During a bail-setting hearing Monday, the suspect stood quietly, with her hands laced loosely behind her back. She looked once at the audience at the end of the hearing. A man who was there on her behalf declined to identify himself or speak with reporters. The Reporter is not naming the suspect because she has not been charged.
Suspect describes fight to detectives
According to police and hospital officials, the suspect drove Matczak to the Swedish Medical Center Issaquah emergency department. They arrived at 10:13 p.m., and police were called to investigate by about 10:20 p.m.
When the suspect drove up, she told medical staff that her boyfriend was dead. The woman told hospital staff that she had her daughter in the vehicle and needed to take her to her parents’ house and would return, according to the certification for determination of probable cause.
Medical staff pulled Matczak from the truck and started CPR. He was quickly taken to Harborview Medical Center, but was pronounced dead eight minutes before arriving, the document said.
Issaquah Police officers were waiting at the apartment complex when the suspect arrived, and she was arrested, shortly before midnight. Police recovered a “medium-sized steak knife,” which she was carrying and dropped when they asked her to do so.
The woman at first told detectives that she had nothing to hide and had “just come from school,” referring to the Gene Juarez academy in Seattle where she was a student, according to court documents.
Later, after being advised of her rights, the suspect said that she and Matczak had been dating for four years.
She said that late last week, Matczak had been mad at her because the apartment was not clean. On Aug. 1, he said he would pick her up from school but then did not. When she arrived at the apartment, he became very angry. They began arguing, and Matczak kicked her in the stomach. She said she told Matczak that maybe she should move out if he didn’t want to pay for her to live there any longer and that they should take a break from the relationship, she told detectives. She left the room to put their daughter to bed, the papers state.
When she came back, Matczak was angry that she hadn’t cooked for him, and began yelling and cursing, then pushed her. She said she pushed him back, and the argument escalated. She told officers that she was looking for a key to Matczak’s truck, when he began to struggle with her, eventually pushing her over a couch and holding her down, the papers state.
The suspect said that she warned him she was going to get a knife. When he still did not let her up, she then grabbed a knife, turned slightly and brought her arm back, which poked the knife into Matczak’s chest.
“He started bleeding and said, ‘(Name omitted) oh my God, what happened?’” she told detectives, saying that she had just wanted him to let her go.
Couple had history of domestic violence
Court records show that on April 15, 2005, at a friend’s apartment in Fife, neighbors called to report a domestic dispute between the then-16-year-old suspect and then-18-year-old Matczak. Officers contacted the girlfriend, who was intoxicated. She told them that Matczak beat her up but would not cooperate with the investigation, court records show. The suspect gave a fake name and tried to walk away, but officers noticed scratches on her back that were bleeding. Upon entering the apartment, they found Matczak hiding in a bedroom, with a bloody nose that he said his girlfriend had inflicted. Both were arrested for investigation of fourth degree domestic violence assault.
After that, Matczak was served with a no-contact order. The probable cause statement says that he was convicted at least twice for violating no-contact orders.
In another incident, the suspect ran away from home to Matczak’s residence in early August 2005. On Aug. 13, the two went to a party together in the early morning hours. At 3 a.m., they left and drove around, and Matczak began accusing her of cheating on him. Over the next three days, he refused to help her get home, forced her to sleep in the car, left her at several locations without transportation and was physically abusive with her on several occasions, including two incidents where she said he attempted to strangle her. Matczak was later charged with second degree assault, unlawful imprisonment and felony violation of a no-contact order. He made a plea agreement, including a plea of guilty on the no-contact order violation, and was sentenced to one year jail time, suspended, based on the following conditions: 90 days jail time, restitution and fines of about $885, two years of probation, no contact with the suspect, substance abuse evaluation and domestic violence treatment.
Issaquah police had responded to the Front Street apartment several times since January, but had not arrested either party.
“Most of it was verbal disputes, or civil standbys,” Deputy Chief Cozart said. “We are aware that this is a volatile relationship …”
Renton police responded several times to Matczak’s family home in the 10600 block of 186th Street Southeast in Renton since March, when the city annexed that area, spokeswoman Penny Bartley said. At least two of those incidents were directly related to the couple’s relationship. Before the annexation, King County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the home several times in 2005 and 2006.
“This address was fairly well known to the Sheriff’s Office,” Sgt. John Urquhart said.
Last month, the two were back in court after they had requested protection orders against each other. Matczak made his request May 30, alleging three prior incidents involving knives, as well as yelling, pushing, biting, hitting, kicking and throwing things at him. The suspect made her request on July 3, alleging that she has several scars from previous assaults, and that he had broken every phone she has ever had. She said that on one occasion, Matczak hit her with his truck and on another he elbowed her above the eye, making her bleed profusely.
Each of them alleged that many of the fights occurred in front of their daughter, who is now being cared for by the suspect’s family members, Cozart said.
A MySpace page believed to be authored by the suspect has a picture of a young girl and man matching Matczak’s description, along with a quote that says “Love kills slowely (sic).” The last login for the page was July 24.
Issaquah’s last homicide was in 2003, Cozart said and, prior to that, in 1993 and 1998.
“This is a relatively safe community,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s the luck of the draw or what, but we have been averaging about one homicide every five years recently. … Prior to ‘93, we went 17 years without a homicide.”