Prosecutors: Tacoma teen killed dad, hid body in compost bin

TACOMA, Wash. -- Prosecutors say a 16-year-old Tacoma boy killed his father with an cane and then hid the body for four days in a backyard compost bin.

The boy, who is not being identified because he hasn't yet been charged as an adult, was arrested Tuesday after confessing to the crime, according to Pierce County prosecutors.

Officers responded to the scene, in the 1900 block of South Madison Street, on Tuesday morning after the teen called 911 to say he'd killed his father and buried him in the backyard, police said.

The father was last heard from on Friday night and was reported missing Saturday by his wife.

Officers searched the backyard, then prepared to bring in cadaver dogs to perform a more thorough search. Word came Tuesday evening that a body had been located in a compost bin.

According to court documents, the boy's parents, Richard and Louise Salzman, were arguing over the phone Friday night. Richard, who had been drinking, was home alone with the suspect and Louise was spending the night at a family member's house, prosecutors say.

Later Friday night, the teen called his mom and said Richard had left the house to go for bike ride. Louise decided to come home, and when she arrived at the house Richard was still gone. She went to sleep, and when he awoke on Saturday and realized her husband was still gone, she got worried and filed a missing person's report with the police.

On Monday Louise told her son she was going to organize a search party, and she later told police the boy became "nervous and anxious, asking that no one come over to the residence," according to court documents.

Instead, the boy asked her not to call anyone and suggested they spend some time together alone.

When talk once again turned to organizing a search party on Tuesday, the boy begged his mom not to call the Sheriff's Office. Asked why not, the boy confessed to murdering his dad, prosecutors say.

He allegedly told Louise he had overheard the argument Friday night and later confronted Richard about it. He said Richard became very upset and pushed him to the ground, at which point the boy said he picked up a cane and hit Richard in the head, killing him.

When his mother asked where the body was, the teen allegedly said "he's here." He then called police and confessed to the killing, prosecutors say.

When police arrived at the house with a search warrant, they found Richard inside a compost box on the property. Police say Richard's bike had been cut into pieces and put on top of his body inside the box. He was also partially covered with dirt, cat litter and oil, according to court papers.

An autopsy is now underway.

Charges in the case are expected by Friday, when the boy will make his first court appearance. Prosecutors say if the boy is charged with second degree murder, he will be tried as an adult.