Landlord found guilty of killing tenants, stuffing remains in suitcases

A Burien landlord accused of killing two tenants and stuffing their remains in suitcases has been found guilty on all counts, a jury decided Thursday.

Michael Dudley, 64, murdered Jessica Lewis and her boyfriend Austin Wenne. Their bodies washed up on Alki Beach in 2020 inside suitcases.

The crime was high-profile due to the grisly nature of the crimes, and because of how the bodies were discovered. An individual posted video of the discovery on TikTok, causing the video to spread throughout Seattle and the country like wildfire.

Lewis and Wenne had been tenants living with Dudley inside her Burien home before they disappeared.

Prosecutors had no eyewitnesses or science that directly linked Dudley to the crime, but had a mountain of circumstantial evidence they argued would have to be a coincidence if Dudley was innocent.

It was enough to convince jurors, who intended to jump right into deliberations after closing arguments on Tuesday.

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Investigators pointed toward a neighbor who reported gunshots, and a man pleading for his life on June 9, 2020. Burien Police went to the home, but no one was there. Dudley couldn’t explain why he wouldn’t have answered the door that night in a subsequent police interview.

The state used cell phone data to show that the night of the reported shooting, Jessica’s phone stopped sending texts. Dudley, who claimed to be friendly, never reached out again—they similarly used data to show that he was near the vicinity of Alki Beach the day before the grisly discovery of a suitcase with human remains inside.