Two suspects charged in murder of Marysville woman

MARYSVILLE Two Snohomish County men have been captured in Missouri, on the evening of June 9, and charged, on the morning of June 10, with second-degree murder for beating a 73-year-old Marysville woman to death in her home.

Joshua Gilliam, 25, and Ryan L. Miller, 22, have been accused of brutally beating Shirley Sweeton with a hammer June 5, and then stealing her debit and credit cards, the contents of her safe and her 1998 Buick. According to Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Janice Ellis, the two allegedly used Sweeton's debit and credit cards to buy cigarettes and clothes at the Lynnwood Wal-Mart, and food at the McDonald's in Monroe, on the morning of June 6. They continued to use Sweeton's cards as they drove through Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota in her Buick.

A Missouri State Patrol Trooper arrested the two, on the evening of June 9, after pulling over the Buick, which had been reported stolen. According to Ellis, Miller allegedly confessed that he and Gilliam had killed Sweeton with a hammer, while the two of them on heroin. The two men allegedly dumped the hammer while driving east on U.S. 2, according to court records.

Ellis wrote in court papers that Miller and Gilliam had lived together in the Everett men's shelter, and that Gilliam had also lived with Sweeton while dating her 24-year-old granddaughter. Ellis added that Gilliam had used Sweeton's credit cards and taken her car without her permission in the past, as well. In September of last year, Sweeton asked for a protection order in against Gilliam on her granddaughter's behalf, alleging that Gilliam coerced her granddaughter to steal and give him money to buy drugs, according to court documents. Because of the granddaughter's mental health issues, a judge determined that she was incapable of caring for herself, and appointed Sweeton as her guardian.

Sweeton wrote in her petition that she was afraid of Gilliam, who was charged in 2000 with child molestation for a sexual assault on a young relative, and has been on community custody after convictions for heroin possession and failing to register as a sex offender. Miller also has a criminal record. According to Ellis, both men were patients at Compass Health, and have been treated for mental health problems.

Sweeton's granddaughter and Gilliam had broken up in recent months, and Sweeton's granddaughter has been living in a group home since she moved out of Sweeton's house. Police don't believe that Sweeton's granddaughter was involved in the slaying.

Sweeton was found lying face up in her bed, with her face covered in blood, and blood on the walls and ceiling of her bedroom, on the morning of June 8, by her sister, who was worried about not hearing from Sweeton over the weekend. Police found Sweeton's purse open, and her debit and credit cards missing, along with her prescription medicine. According to Ellis, a surveillance video showed Gilliam driving Sweeton's Buick with Miller in the passenger seat, and Miller allegedly called his mother from the road, on the evening of June 9, to tell her that he was with a friend from the Everett men's shelter.

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