LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — The man suspected of killing a Longview landlord and stealing his car and credit cards allegedly texted someone “I smoked somebody” while he was fleeing the area.
David James Eugene Daniel was arrested Thursday in Barstow, California on an outstanding warrant. He was later charged with the murder of Arthur Mahlum at Mahlum’s home in Longview days before.
Court documents obtained by KOIN 6 News outline the clues that led to Daniel’s arrest.
The summary shows:
Mahlum, 73, rented rooms in his home in the 2200 block of Birch Street to 2 people, the woman who found him and called police and to Daniel. Daniel moved in at the beginning of October.
The woman tenant told investigators she had coffee with Mahlum on the morning of October 26. Later that day, she went out and returned shortly after 2 a.m. When she got back she noticed Mahlum’s Chevy Silverado was not there and that his bedroom door was closed. She thought both things were odd but went to bed.
On Sunday, she got up, ran some errands and was gone again until about 6:30 p.m. She noticed Mahlum’s truck was still gone and his bedroom door was still closed and locked. She checked the house and discovered Daniel had moved out unexpectedly.
She then found Mahlum and called police.
Investigators determined he was dead at the scene. They also determined Mahlum’s cell phone and credit cards were missing. An autopsy later confirmed Mahlum was shot to death.
A background check of Daniel found he had lifelong connections in the Barstow area. Investigators were also able to track purchases from Mahlum’s credit cards in a city between Longview and Barstow late on Sunday night.
“We told them we thought he was headed to that area. We told them the truck he was driving,” Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha told KOIN 6 News. “We knew intially from his past contacts wtih law enforcement agencies down there people that he knew, so they were watching those areas, those houses and he did actually show up at one of those houses.”
On Sunday morning, Daniel texted, “I am on my way to Barstow.”
“A lot of people when they’re scared, when they’ve done something wrong, even if they didn’t have the best home life, they will head home because they feel safe,” Duscha said. “So we assumed he was heading to California and we were correct on that assumption.”
At 11:21 p.m. that night, Daniel texted from his own phone: “I smoked somebody…” About 15 hours later he sent another text: “short leash meaning sooner or later they’re going to get me if you want to see me then you need to make it a priority.”
Daniel was arrested October 31 on a California warrant for vehicle theft, possession of a destructive device and DUI. Detectives from the Longview Police Department flew to California to interview him and then arrested him for the murder.
Mahlum’s 1996 Chevy Silverado was found in Barstow, Longview police said.
Detectives are still down in California interviewing people Daniel may have had contact with there and they are processing Mahlum’s Chevy, Duscha said. Depending on how the court hearings go, he hopes Daniel is back in Washington next week.
He noted there is still a lot of work to do “but we’re putting it all together.”
Longview residents Ashley Meloche and Carmen White said they’re glad the suspected killer was caught.
“He’s a coward. A coward flees but I mean, who kills people?” Meloche said.
White said she is “very thankful that he was caught quickly and I’m very thankful for our police department.”
Chief Duscha said he hopes Mahlum’s family feels a bit of closure.
“They’ll never get their family member back or loved one back but I hope they see the professionalism in our department and they can count on this and we will bring this case to trial.”
The investigation is active and ongoing. More charges are likely, authorities said in a press release. Anyone who may have seen or been in touch with David J.E. Daniel Jr. between October 25-31 is asked to contact Detective Trevor Eades at 360.442.5800.