In the two weeks since remains of Ingrid Lyne were discovered in a recycling bin at 21st and Pine, police have arrested a suspect and offered a gruesome outline of what they believed happened to the Renton mother of three.
Still, details on how the 40-year-old’s killer ended up on this residential block remain unclear.
John Charlton, 37, is suspected of killing the Swedish Medical Center nurse in her home, stealing her car, dumping her body in Central District recycling bins, and eventually making his way to Snohomish County where he was arrested.
The 1600 block of 21st Ave appears to have only been a random stop on Charlton’s way to Lake Stevens where he was eventually arrested. Police say the neighborhood bears no other connection to the case.
The handful of available details on Charlton’s whereabouts that weekend offer some insight into a possible timeline of events, but no definitive answers as to why he chose the Central District.
The timeline starts with a date at the Mariners home opener Friday evening, April 8th. Charlton told police he and Lyne attended the game at Safeco Field. Police confirmed Lyne had tickets to the game.
After the game, Charlton said the two went to Lyne’s house in Renton but that he was too drunk to remember what happened next. Nobody was home by 10 AM Saturday morning when Lyne’s ex-husband arrived at the house to drop off their three children.
It was sometime prior to her ex-husband’s arrival that prosecutors say Charlton killed and dismembered Lyne at her Renton home and then drove her car to Seattle. Officials have not said if Charlton used the 2015 Toyota Highlander to transport Lyne’s remains to the Central District, but it appears to be a likely scenario given the prosecutor’s timeline. The car was eventually found in Belltown. The awful evidence of what had happened in the home was discovered when CSI detectives removed plumbing beneath the tub following Charlton’s arrest.
Lyne’s remains in the Central District were discovered just after 4 PM on Saturday, April 9th. Her body parts, wrapped in garbage bags, were placed in home recycling bins in at least two locations: 21st and Pine, and two blocks south near 20th and Marion. Police have not released any further details about when the disposal may have occurred, how long Charlton may have stayed in the neighborhood, if he did anything else aside from dump the body parts, or if detectives are still searching for additional remains. More remains belonging to Lyne were discovered at a SODO recycling center this week.
How well did Charlton know Seattle? He had a drinking problem, claimed to be homeless, and told a girlfriend he stayed in a “shelter” in the city but she was unable to provide specifics to police. The suspect told police he works as a day laborer. According to police, Charlton also said the night of the Mariners game, he and Lyne visited a bar in Seattle where his sister works before returning to Lyne’s Renton home.
There are several possible routes Charlton could have taken from Renton to the Central District. Rainier offers a nearly straight shot from Renton to the location where Lyne’s remains were found and avoids interstate travel. Taking I-5 and exiting at Madison is a relatively natural route to the neighborhood, but requires driving south of Renton to connect to the interstate. Traveling via I-90 would have likely been the fastest way to get from Lyne’s home to Seattle, but would require a more circuitous route to 21st and Pine after crossing Lake Washington.
Assuming Charlton’s destination from Renton was to park the car in Belltown, he may have wanted to avoid downtown’s dense and active streets as a place to dispose Lyne’s body. The Central District’s quiet residential blocks would certainly offer more privacy before stashing the car. Still, there are many neighborhoods between Renton and downtown Seattle and the details of why Lyne’s dismembered body ended up in the Central District may never become fully known.
SPD’s investigation remains ongoing and a spokesperson said detectives are still trying to piece together a timeline for Lyne’s death. A King County judge found there was probable cause to hold Charlton and set his bail at $2 million. Charlton’s attorney said there is no evidence linking Charlton to Lyne’s death.