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UPDATE: Neighbor says Eric Lehtinen kept to himself but had many people coming and going at house
A 37-year-old Redmond man was booked into King County Jail Friday night and has been charged with attempted first-degree murder and other related charges after a suspected drug overdose with his 4-year-old son last Tuesday.
Redmond police and fire personnel responded to a house in the 14100 block of Northeast 72nd Street at 11:45 a.m. on Sept. 24 after receiving a 911 call from the boy's mother, who had come home to find her husband, Eric Emil Lehtinen, and their son breathing but unconscious.
Lehtinen's wife came to the residence after she was unable to reach her estranged husband by phone. She found the two in Lehtinen's bed apparently asleep, according to King County court documents. Lehtinen had vomit coming out of his mouth and the boy was lying on his back, partially covered by a blanket. When Lehtinen's wife lifted the blanket, she discovered a syringe — loaded with a dark liquid — on the boy's chest with the needle pointed toward his neck. Both father and son were unresponsive.
Court documents state that Lehtinen was taken to EvergreenHealth and his son was taken to Seattle Children's Hospital. Both remained in stable and sedated condition throughout the week. Their condition had improved by Friday night, according to Redmond Police Department (RPD) spokesperson Mike Dowd, when Lehtinen was transferred to police custody.
Lehtinen is responsive but refusing to tell police what happened on Sept. 24.
Lehtinen's son is still at Children's, undergoing treatment for a drug overdose. "Medical staff located puncture wounds on his body indicating recent needle sticks," according to court documents. There was one wound on the left side of his neck and multiple wounds on his buttocks. An initial toxicology screen of the boy's blood showed the presence of heroin, ketamine, morphine, codeine, norketamine and lidocaine. According to the court documents, it is unknown at this time if the 4-year-old will have longterm effects or damage from the drugs.
A few hours after Lehtinen and his son were found, a search warrant was served on the residence. According to court documents, seven syringes containing a liquid believed to be illegal drugs were found in the room where Lehtinen and his son were discovered. Three used syringes were also located in the bedroom. Other drug-related evidence found included a burnt spoon with residue, multiple scales, package equipment and alcohol pads. Police also found $12,620 in cash inside the home, according to documents.
Lehtinen has a history of drug use and overdose occurrences. Court documents state that in July of this year, he was transported to the hospital by medics for an overdose and later that month, a concerned party had reported to police that he had been dealing drugs from his house. In February 2005, police involuntarily committed Lehtinen to a local hospital after he cut himself with scissors and threatened suicide while he was in withdrawal from heroin.
In addition, police were called to the Redmond residence in December 2012 for a domestic argument between Lehtinen and his wife.
Joel Vangel, who has lived in the house next door to Lehtinen's residence since the 1980s, said Lehtinen mostly kept to himself but he did have a lot of visitors.
"He had a lot of people coming and going over the years," Vangel said.
A few years ago, he said, the drug-enforcement unit from the Bellevue Police Department came by Lehtinen's house because they were suspicious of drug activity and wanted to learn the layout of the house in case they needed to raid it.
Vangel, who is retired but still works part time at EvergreenHealth, said he knew Lehtinen had issues, but not the extent and didn't see any reason to call the police.
"They weren't bothering me," he said, adding that Lehtinen's son used to play with other children in the neighborhood, as well.
Lehtinen and his wife had been married for nearly six years and were in the process of getting a divorce — which documents state was finalized the day Lehtinen and his son were found unconscious in his home. According to documents, Lehtinen had recently requested his wife delay the finalization of their divorce.
His wife said Lehtinen had been a heroin and ketamine user in the past but had told her he had stopped. Due to his past, Lehtinen's wife insisted that part of the divorce and child custody visitation agreement was that he submit to drug testing to ensure their son's safety, documents state.
Until Sept. 15, Lehtinen's wife and son were living in San Francisco. She returned to Washington with the boy for a job interview and allowed their son to stay with Lehtinen on the evening of Sept. 23. At that time, documents state that Lehtinen's wife thought he was depressed "but she did not see any reason to remove (their son) from (Lehtinen's) care." Until last week, she did not know her estranged husband had been using drugs again.
According to King County court documents, Lehtinen acted with "premeditated intent to cause the death of another person, did attempt to cause the death of (his son)…(and) knew or should have known that the victim…was particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance."
If convicted, Lehtinen could face at least 15 years in prison. He is being held on bail set at $3 million.