Victim of Fatal Chehalis Stabbing Identified by Lewis County Coroner

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The Lewis County Coroner's Office has identified the victim of a fatal stabbing in Chehalis last month as William A. Foster III, 46, of Tacoma. 

Coroner Warren McLeod determined the cause of death to be internal bleeding due multiple stab wounds and the manner of death as homicide. 

The suspect in the murder, Billy J. Bartlett, 30, was arrested shortly after the Dec. 20 stabbing, which occurred outside the Get-n-Go in the 600 block of North National Avenue at 7:47 p.m.

Bartlett is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree assault of a child. 

Bartlett had allegedly approached Foster, who was in a van at the gas pump outside the store with his two children, a 12-year-old and a 4-year-old, and asked for a cigarette. After he received the cigarette, Bartlett allegedly opened the van door and, according to the 12-year-old, “appeared to be punching (Foster).” 

Officers discovered the “punches” were actually Bartlett stabbing Foster, according to court documents. 

The 12-year0old was also injured.

Bartlett reportedly walked away from the van and Foster started driving the van away from the gas pump, with the car ultimately coming to rest outside the nearby Ocean Sky Restaurant, where officers found them. 

Both were transported to Providence Centralia Hospital. The 12-year-old was treated for lacerations and was released, but Foster died from his injuries. 

The 4-year-old was not injured, according to the Chehalis Police Department. 

After the stabbing, Bartlett reportedly went into the Get-n-Go “with a cigarette in his mouth and bought a Gatorade,” according to court documents. 

Blood could reportedly be seen on Bartlett when he entered the store. 

The description witnesses gave of the stabbing suspect matched that of a man who was reportedly seen “stabbing himself in the arm with a pair of scissors” on a stranger’s porch earlier that evening, according to court documents. 

Chehalis police officers, with help from officers with the Centralia Police Department, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol, were conducting a search of the area when, at approximately 8:38 p.m., they received a call about a suspect matching Bartlett’s description trying to break into an apartment complex in the 100 block of Northeast Boistfort Street, where officers were able to arrest him. 

He was booked into the Lewis County Jail at 11:43 p.m. on Dec. 20, according to jail records. 

He is additionally accused of acting with “deliberate cruelty” toward both victims and displaying “an egregious lack of remorse,” according to court documents. 

During his initial court appearance, Deputy Prosecutor Joe Bassetti referenced what he called “the extremely disturbing facts of this case” as well as Bartlett’s criminal history, which includes multiple assault convictions, when asking the court to withhold bail for Bartlett’s case. 

Bartlett was most-recently released from jail on Nov. 9, 2021, and was on probation when the alleged incident occurred. 

Bartlett’s attorney has since indicated Bartlett will be pursuing an “insanity defense.”

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This story will be updated.