A Ferndale man beat his father to death with a hammer, hid his body in a garage for 1 ½ weeks, and dug a grave in the backyard to cover up the murder, according to police.
On Tuesday police responded to a faded pink two-story house at 6164 Grouse Circle, because a concerned family member hadn’t seen William Herman Koop Jr., 65, for weeks. At the home officers spoke with William’s son, Christopher Gregory Koop, 39, who confessed that his father’s body was in the two-car garage, police said.
Christopher Koop told officers they got into an argument over bills on April 13, when he “snapped” and repeatedly punched his father. He knocked his father out, got a hammer, and beat his unconscious father over the head, according to a prosecutor’s summary of the charges read in court.
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Koop went on to say he also used two flashlights and the base of a telephone to beat his father to death. He tried to suffocate the older Koop with a pillow to put him out of his misery, but when his father started to resist, he “left William Koop to die” on the garage floor, according to police.
Koop scrubbed the bloody crime scene with chemicals and tried to load the body into a vehicle to dump it elsewhere, according to the charges. But he backed out of that plan. Instead he dug a grave in the backyard, where he planned to bury the body, police said.
Officers booked Christopher Koop into jail around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree murder.
The body was discovered in the garage. Based on Koop’s statements to police, his father had been dead for over 1 ½ weeks. Dr. Gary Goldfogel, the county medical examiner, has scheduled an autopsy for Friday to confirm the cause of death.
At the time of the killing, Koop lived at the Grouse Circle home with his father.
On Wednesday in court, Koop – a 6-foot-tall, thin, bald man – gazed at the floor as the prosecutor read the charges against him. He answered in monotone when asked if he understood his rights, and the crime he’s accused of.
Superior Court Commissioner Pamela Englett found probable cause for first-degree murder while armed with a deadly weapon. She set bail at $1 million.
Christopher Koop has a felony record dating back to his teens, in the early 1990s, when he was convicted of a string of home burglaries.
Court records show his father tried to evict him from the Grouse Circle house in November 2000, when his $100-a-month rent was three months overdue. Koop responded to the eviction notice by threatening to kill his father.
“You better hope I can live with one of our relatives, or I will be back and kill you,” said Koop, at age 22, according to court records.
Then the son offered to pay double his usual rent, and when his father reinforced that he wanted him out of the house – that he could stay at a mission, with the Salvation Army, or even spend his life in prison if he really wanted to kill him – Koop repeated the threat at least three times. Koop later begged his father to let him stay, telling his father he was kidding about the threats to kill him.
According to the charges: “William Koop stated that he is afraid of what Christopher Koop might do, and feels that his son is capable of killing him or hurting him very badly.”
Koop pleaded guilty to felony harassment in that case. A judge sentenced him to six months in jail, mental health treatment and no contact with his father.
In 2006, he punched a roommate “out of nowhere” in an argument over who got to use the shower in their apartment on Redwood Avenue, according to charging papers. The two roommates rolled down a flight of stairs in the fight, and Koop smothered the man’s face with his own shirt. He choked the man, and beat him with a baseball bat. In that case, on the day the trial began, Koop pleaded guilty to second-degree assault. He served a prison sentence of 2 ¾ years.
Koop hasn’t been convicted of a felony in Washington state in the past decade. However, his uncle asked for a no-contact order against him in early 2013, accusing his nephew of having an explosive temper where he would scream at him, “so close I can feel his breath on my face.” Superior Court Commissioner Martha Gross declined to approve a permanent protection order, because the uncle’s claims weren’t proven, according to court records.